By Deborah Goonan
In my opinion, the attached news video illustrates some disturbing, negative social trends in HOAs.
City House is a non-profit organization that teaches life skills to homeless youths, age 18-22. The organization also provides supervised transitional living in a home environment for these young adults, efforts which have proven successful for more than two decades.
But after City House obtained and remodeled a 5-bedroom home in one affluent Texas HOA, Plantation Resort HOA 2 filed suit to block the youths from moving in.
Apparently, the HOA has concerns about negative effects on property values, and their legal suit argues that a household of unrelated youths does not fit the definition of “single family use” as defined in their Covenants and Restrictions.
PR2 HOA happens to be an affluent neighborhood, and apparently some (though not all) homeowners – who would not appear on camera in the video link below – have “mixed feelings” and think that City House should take their operations “somewhere else.”
What is the objection? That these youths may come from poor families? That the living arrangement is not a traditional family? Perhaps they are of the mind, “HOAs are not for everyone,” a comment we hear over and over again from HOA proponents. Really? With HOA communities dominating most metropolitan areas, and rapidly spreading beyond the suburbs, where are people that do not fit into the HOA supposed to live? In my opinion, this is a classic case of Not-In-My-Back-Yard.
More fundamentally, WHY should certain groups of people be discouraged or denied housing? This issue was supposed to have been resolved with Civil Rights legislation passed in the 1960s. But for some reason, because most HOAs are private corporations, they consider themselves above the law of the land. Has the proliferation of private HOAs created new ways to discriminate against certain groups of people by way of creative rulemaking? Do these communities now foster fragmentation and exclusion by social class?
In this case, the HOA rule for “single family use” has the effect of discriminating against poor, unmarried people who must live together to share expenses. So does this HOA really intend to disallow roommates? Hopefully the matter can be resolved amicably. Unfortunately, disadvantaged youths have already been given the message that they are not welcome at Plantation Resort 2.
Link to NBC-5 news video and transcript