Police launch probe after woman's stay at group home

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Group homes are suppose to be a haven for people suffering from mental or physical problems, a place where they can live and get the help they need. But one local woman says she ended up at a group home only caused her stress. In fact, mention the house on the corner of New York and Yellowstone and tears run down Penny Harville's face.

"It's bad. It's really bad," she says. "I don't sleep, I don't eat."

The 62-year-old says she ended up at what she described as a group home after she was released from Kingwood Pines Hospital days before Christmas. It was suppose to help her recuperate from a bout of depression, but Harville says her stay in this house, owned by Debra Goodly, made her condition worse.

"It was degrading, and I just got scared and I was stressed," said Harville, with tears in her eyes.

Records show Goodly has operated some type of home on New York Street since 1999. We tried talking to her about the type of home she's running.

"We're understanding you're running an unlicensed facility?" asked Eyewitness News.

"No I'm not," replied Goodly, who quickly walked into her house.

Records show in 2008, the state of Texas accused her of operating an unlicensed assisted living facility. A court ordered Goodly to shut down. It appears she has not.


Instead, residents tell us the house has been operating lately as a type of group home. The City of Houston requires group homes that charge rent to be registered. Houston Police confirms this home isn't registered, though a current resident told us, she pays rent.

"How much is she charging you?" was asked Donnie Baranofsky, who opened the door.

"$600 a month," she answered.

"Can you afford that?" we asked.

"Hardly," she said.

It's the same amount of money Harville said she grudgingly paid Goodly just before New Year's. She showed us the $600 duplicate check, as well as a bank statement.

"Did you charge her $600? Why did she write you a check for $600?" we tried to ask Goodly. She simply got into her car and drove off.

Houston police tells Eyewitness news that it contacted Goodly Thursday, and told her she must comply with city code. As for Harville, she's relieved to have returned to her own apartment, and wants the same for the people who still live in that home.

"I just want to see them get shut down, for the other people to get out of there that's in there, and find a good place for them."

After we began asking questions, the City of Houston says Goodly called and said she wants to register her group home. In addition, the Texas Attorney General's office says it will be looking into whether Goodly may be violating any state law, with the operation of her home.
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