Houston may start regulating boarding homes after recent fire, officer-involved shooting

A new investigative team consist of various city employees, law enforcement and social agencies, all coming together to make sure the estimated 430 boarding or group homes around the city are in compliance.
July 17, 2013 3:13:23 PM PDT
There are hundreds of boarding homes across the city of Houston, and none of them are regulated. After a recent fire, and an officer-involved shooting at area group homes, city leaders are looking to change the rules.

The city doesn't know exactly how many group homes exist across Houston, but it is looking to take the first step to make some lasting improvements to them.

At Inner Wisdom Counseling Center, many of their clients live in boarding houses across Houston. And their stories can be heartbreaking.

"I've been in them with four people in a room. No top sheet, bed bugs," one client said.

Although this man now lives at a well-run facility, the fact that none of Houston's boarding houses for the mentally and physically challenged are regulated frustrates counselors.

"There's been cases where our clients are not getting food, they're not getting proper medication, or their medication has been given to anyone else," licensed professional counselor Steven Goff said.

The city of Houston is trying to change that, proposing an ordinance, that if passed, will give mental health professionals and Houston police officers some much-needed tools.

"They're going to register, pay a fee, announce who the owner is, because a lot of places, when the officers walk up, they don't have identification. The owners, they're going to have to keep some records on who the patients are," said Sr. Officer Doug Anders with the Houston Police Department Mental Health Unit.

City leaders will vote on the ordinance next week, and people who live in these facilities tell us they can't wait.

"I think the city should regulate them because they abuse the clients," the former boarding home resident said.

City Council was scheduled to vote on the proposal to regulate the homes on Wednesday, but decided to delay it by one week.

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