guest blog by Deborah Goonan
On October 31, 2014, a District Judge in Texas ruled against a demand by a Homeowners Association that a group home in the neighborhood be shut down. City House has 8 residents, young women who would otherwise be homeless. But the legal battle is not over.
A report from the Dallas News which discusses key arguments in the dispute is linked below.
Chad Robinson, who represents the Plantation Resort 2 Homeowners Association, claims that neighborhood deed restrictions require that homes only be used by single families, people related by blood or by law. He acknowledges there are exceptions for such things as nannies or single renters. But he says eight unrelated women in a transitional living program cannot be considered a single family.
Monica Velazquez, attorney for City House, argued that the non-profit transitional living program operates similar to a single-family unit. “It’s what the home is being used for, not who gets to live inside.”
Darlene Horan, HOA Board member and Real Estate Agent, offered the usual, predictable testimony that if the rules aren’t followed, home values will plummet.
But where is the evidence behind such a claim? And what is the underlying intent of this testimony?
Ms. Horan’s argument is eerily similar to fear-mongering marketing claims of the 1940s-1960s – that families who are ‘different’ from the norm will ruin the neighborhood for everybody. “There goes the neighborhood!” The old fear tactic being used again, albeit in more covert fashion.
Instead of fretting about racial diversity, per se, now some HOAs are fretting about “single family use,” and attempting to conjure up a new definition of family designed to exclude certain types of households from moving into Utopia.
You can be certain that the City House residence will remain a target of this HOA board while a civil case is pending.