A look at group homes in Houston-area neighborhoods

HOUSTON – Depending on the type and location, group homes in Houston-area neighborhoods may not have much oversight, Channel 2 Investigates found.

In fact, in some cases, local municipalities are barred from passing ordinances against them.

In 2010, a scholarly paper on the subject found at least 24 subcategories of recognized group homes in Texas.

Each classification is governed by a different set of rules and regulations on the federal, state and local level.

“Two-to-three bedroom houses and there’s eight to 10 to 12 people,” Houston City Council Member Michael Kubosh said.

Last year, following a fatal fire, Kubosh was among the council members who successfully passed an ordinance that more tightly regulates boarding houses.

Boarding houses typically offer individual beds for rent along with a shared bathroom.

But other types of group homes, known as community homes, cannot be independently governed by local municipalities because of federal housing laws that relate to discrimination.

Community homes are specifically designed for tenants with physical and mental disabilities.

“I’m looking for the city to take better ownership of and supervision of the facility,” Missouri City resident Bert Silverstein said.

Silverstein was recently attacked by a neighbor who resided at a community home across the street from his house.

Community homes are often found in subdivisions, and are allowed to set up shop without license, regardless of HOA rules.

Silverstein was quick to point out that he does not mind group homes in his neighborhood as long as they’re good neighbors.

Other types of facilities require a state license or local registration, but Channel 2 Investigates found that sometimes oversight is lacking, and in other cases, group homes that should be licensed are not.

The Love and Joy Personal Care Home on Mallow Street is a state licensed not-for-profit assisted living facility.

Channel 2 Investigates visited the facility in southeast Houston this week after receiving a complaint regarding cleanliness and care standards.

We found bed bugs, improperly discarded bloody gauze and dirty walls in one triple-occupancy room.

A subsequent, guided tour by CEO Sheila Swirczynski revealed other, cleaner rooms.

Swirczynski said the facility receives no government monies, and most tenants pay less than $700 per month for room and board.

Swirczynski offered a candid on-camera interview and later wrote us:

“Would like to inform the community we are a licensed facility who house homeless people with disabilities.
We are proud to say we attempted to open Houston’s first residential shelter for people with disabilities who are non- funded.

"Our agency is exposed to individuals with non-hygienic conditions, poor hygiene conditions, bed bugs, physical aggression and verbal aggression.

"All concerns for any neglect or abuse cases has been unfounded by all governing agencies and Adult Protective Services.

"Our goal is to house and service our special group regardless to the poor conditions. We desire the community to help us rebuild our facility.

"We are proud of our staff who work hard daily in aiding and caring for people with disabilities who are non- funded.”

Are you curious about a home in your neighborhood? Here are some resources:

Assisted Living Facilities (statewide)

Personal Care Homes (Houston Metro area)

Boarding Houses (Houston)

List of Alternate Housing/Correctional Facilities (Houston)

List of TDCJ Approved Alternate Housing Locations (Houston)