guest blog by Deborah Goonan
This is an update to an earlier blog about the Plantation Resort 2 in Frisco, Texas. The PR2 HOA is filing a lawsuit against City House, to block use of a home they recently purchased and renovated for use as transitional living for homeless youths.
The local CBS affiliate has been covering the story, and the link to their video is below.
While PR2 HOA has allowed two young women to move into the home owned by City House, they have made it clear they do not want any more residents to join them. The house was originally intended for transitional living for 6-8 youths. Public records indicate that PR2 homes are good-sized, most with 4 bedrooms and between 2500 – 3000 square feet, with an average sale price hovering around $270,000.
This is the part that really sticks in my craw. A statement made by PR2 HOA Attorney Chad Robinson, Riddle & Williams:
“City House is a great cause. But, on the flip side, we can’t pick and choose which rules we enforce.”
To put this statement into perspective, let’s consider that the real estate industry has had a long history of creating all sorts of deed restrictions and business practices intentionally designed to homogenize neighborhoods in the interest of protecting home values. Up until Fair Housing and Civil rights legislation was enacted in the 1960s, federal housing and lending policies explicitly aided and abetted segregation between the haves and the have-nots, along racial lines.
Since the late 1960s, the real estate industry has created hundreds of thousands of HOAs, many of which continue similar, less explicit homogenizing practices by way of carefully crafted CC&Rs. And because the Rules are considered “contractual agreements,” and HOAs are not acknowledged as de facto governing entities or state actors, a lot of ambiguous and petty restrictions escape federal scrutiny.
In other words, you can agree to any rules and restrictions you want, even if they happen to be petty, socially reprehensible, un-American, or unconstitutional. Remember folks, in HOAs, The Bill of Rights Need Not Apply.
At issue in this dispute is whether a transitional living arrangement fits the definition of “family,” as specified in the governing documents for PR2 HOA. City House believes that their non-commercial use of the home as a stable living environment falls within the definition, but PR2 HOA Attorney Robinson does not.
But in 21st century America, what, exactly, constitutes a family? Gone are the days when most family households consisted of mom and dad with a couple of children. We have single-parent households, same-sex partners with children, families blended following remarriage after divorce or death of a spouse, unmarried couples with or without children, extended families that include grandparents and adult children. And what if you rent the home you own to unrelated roommates? Which of these falls into PR2 HOA’s narrow definition of “single family use?” How many of these variations already exist in PR2?
Next week a judge will hear the case and decide whether City House can continue their great work with homeless youths, and create transitional families in PR2.