Galveston Co. health officials force closure of children's center following harsh living conditions

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Saturday, April 15, 2023
Health officials force closure of Galveston children's shelter
Rotting food, rat droppings, and high concentrations of lead were found after health officials investigated the center following a child testing positive for lead poisoning.

GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- The Galveston County Health District has ordered the closure of The Children's Center shelter over Easter weekend after reports of it being "unfit for humans to live there."

The video above is from ABC13's Lives Streaming Channel.

The closure was ordered after officials found high amounts of lead, rat droppings, rotting food, and a bed bug and flea infestation along the sleeping areas.

The district's investigation into the center started after a report of a child testing positive for lead in their system, which has to be immediately reported by law to health officials.

Since then, four children were revealed to have tested positive for lead poisoning, two of which required treatment, according to the Health District CEO and the county's local health authority Dr. Philip Keiser.

Health district environmental officials tested the grounds at the shelter and found high concentrations of lead in the soil around the perimeters of the building.

Officials said the lead is reportedly from paint used outside the shelter and on the floors, likely tracked from outside.

Officials said Keiser issued the order requiring all residents to be removed within 72 hours on the Thursday before Easter Sunday.

In addition, it was found by the Galveston fire marshal that the fire suppression system was not working, and several smoke detectors had been removed or disconnected.

The center's board chair, Hilda Torres, stated that she and other board members were unaware of the situation exposed by the health district's investigation.

In a statement, the Human Resource Director, Donna Henderson, said all families were removed from the shelter and were placed in temporary housing.

The center has a history of 145 years of providing shelter and social services in Galveston and Galveston County.

It provides services for homeless families, domestic violence victims, and undocumented migrants who travel to the area.

Funds for the center are provided through federal and state grants from the United Way Galveston County Mainland and donations.