A neighborhood association (NA) is a group of residents or property owners who advocate for or organize activities within a neighborhood. An association may have elected leaders and voluntary dues.
Some neighborhood associations in the United States are incorporated, may be recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, and may enjoy freedom from taxation from their home state.
The term neighborhood association is sometimes incorrectly used instead of homeowners association (HOA). But neighborhood associations are not homeowners associations (HOA). A HOA is a group of property owners with the legal authority to enforce rules and regulations that focus on restrictions and building and safety issues. On the other hand, a neighborhood association is a group of neighbors and business owners who work together for changes and improvements such as neighborhood safety, beautification and social activities. They reinforce rules and regulations through education, peer pressure and by looking out for each other. Some key differences include:
The rules for formation of a neighborhood association in the United States are sometimes regulated at the city or state level.
Neighborhood councils within a city, whose officers are generally elected, are composed of various neighborhood associations and, as such, may be subject to limitations and special rules set up by the council.
Neighborhood associations are more likely to be formed in older, established neighborhoods, especially those that predate HOAs. HOAs are generally established at the time a residential neighborhood is built and sold. Sometimes older established neighborhoods form an HOA to help regulate rules and standards.
In some cases, neighborhood associations exist simultaneously with HOAs, and each may not encompass identical boundaries. In one example, newer infill neighborhoods built decades after the original, surrounding HOA-less neighborhood may have its own HOA but also be within the boundaries of a NA.
While neighborhood associations in the United States often function in a similar manner, other areas of the world demonstrate a unique form of neighborhood associations that is uncommon to Western ideals. These NAs do share basic characteristics with traditional grassroots organizations but yet they remain distinctly different. Benjamin Read refers to this variety of organizations as "straddlers for their spanning of the state-society divide." Neighborhood Associations in terms of grassroots organizations compared to straddler organizations can be distinguished by the following characteristics:
Neighborhood-based Straddler organizations
To expand on the variety of global neighborhood associations present, an example can be used from certain NAs in Asia.
The relationship between the states and the various forms of neighborhood association may also be identified by its level of statism. Mass organizations would be considered the most statist, where the local associations are closely linked to the state. The Civil Society theory is considered the least statist and here the local associations are extremely self-reliant. Between the most and least statist points are corporatist and state-society synergy; they operate with government and depend on its sponsorship but remain free from direct control. China, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Thailand provide examples of how the four frameworks and statism levels play a role in guiding the overall purpose and ultimate goal of the neighborhood-based organizations in each county.