Elderly couple slams homeowners association for not letting orphaned teen live with them

An elderly couple in Arizona is speaking out against their community's homeowners association for not letting their recently orphaned grandson live with them, KNXV reports. 

Melodie Passmore, of Prescott, took her grandson Collin Clabaugh into her home at the Gardens at Willow Creek HOA at the end of 2018 after the 15-year-old boy lost his parents two weeks apart, according to the station. Since then, Clabaugh, who originally lived in California, has been living in the senior community, which houses over 55 residents. 

Last month, the Passmores' attorney received a letter on behalf of the association, confirming that it had, in fact, requested that the couple come up with alternative living arrangements for Clabaugh by June 2020. The association argued that the teenager did not meet the community's age requirement, which does not allow anybody under the age of 19 to live on the property. 

"As I have previously indicated, the Board is sympathetic to the Passmores' situation," the letter from Jason N. Miller, the lawyer representing the association, reads. "All of the Board members understand that these are different circumstances. However, the entire reason for the community's existence as an age restricted community is to allow for deed restrictions, and the Association is not acting outside of the scope of the law."

Related: Adopted teen finds out he grew up only miles way from his biological brother

In the association's defense, Miller also cites the Housing for Older Persons Act — a 1995 bill signed by then-President Bill Clinton that contains "a provision exempting 'senior' housing from the prohibition against familial status discrimination" — in his letter. 

"The Board must balance the interests of all parties involved, not just the Passmores, but all of the other residents who purchased property in an age restricted community expecting the age restrictions to be followed," the letter continues.

Clabaugh, however, told KNXV that he felt the association was being inconsiderate. 

"It just seems so heartless that even though we’ve explained our whole situation, it has to be the rule that dictates everything, it can’t be someone's life," he said. 

His grandmother echoed a similar sentiment. 

"We didn’t plan this. We didn’t go out one day and say, 'Hey, let's have Clay kill himself, and let's have Bonnie die, and we’ll take Collin in,'" Passmore said. 

In an updated statement to CNN, the homeowner's association board said they were "deeply saddened by the circumstances the Passmores are dealing with related to the loss of their loved ones."

"The Gardens at Willow Creek legal counsel and legal counsel for the Passmores have been in contact, and the board is working with the Passmores to resolve this matter," the board wrote. 

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