A brand new initiative by city leaders to make it safer for Houstonians living in and near boarding homes was launched Thursday.
The city is working to improve the quality of life for people living in Houston boarding homes.
"The goal is compliance and to make it a safer environment for the people in those homes," said Doug Anders, Sr. Officer, Houston Police Department.
Back in July, members of the City Council passed an ordinance calling for the regulation of boarding homes that usually house several people with disabilities or who are elderly. Houston police say now those boarding homes will be subject to frequent inspections, licensing and other regulations.
The owners of the boarding homes will be required to keep updated records, submit to background checks and report criminal activity and deaths. Officers say in many cases, residents are living in unsanitary and dangerous conditions.
"Stoves that don't work, refrigerators that don't work, sewage on the ground, ceilings falling down, electrical shorts, electrical violations that could create a fire hazard. Some of the homes have no AC and yet keep the windows boarded up so the clients inside so there is no air flow," Sr. Officer Anders said.
A new investigative team consisting of city employees, law enforcement and social agencies, is coming together to make sure these homes are in compliance with the new ordinance.
"Once we get complaints we will go out and investigate to see what the conditions in the home are and see if they are registered," said Sr. Officer Anders.
People who live near the unlicensed boarding homes are hoping these new regulations work.
"Elderly or foster kids, or disabled people need extra support, I don't know if it landlord, or community support or police, but certainty some sort of regulation or help, really," said resident Whitney Johnson.
The new ordinance will go into effect on November 25.
A boarding home or boarding home facility means an establishment that:
- Furnishes, in one or more buildings, lodging to three or more persons with disabilities or elderly persons unrelated to the owner of the establishment by blood or marriage; and
- Provides residents with community meals, light housework, meal preparation, transportation, grocery shopping, money management, laundry services, or assistance with self-administration of medication, but does not provide personal care services as defined by Section 247.002 of the Texas Health and Safety Code to those persons. The ordinance exempts certain facilities that have state licenses.
Additional information on the ordinance may be found by visiting HoustonTX.gov or by contacting the City of Houston Helpline by dialing 311.