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What is being done to crack down on unlicensed group homes

Lawmakers and Law Enforcement officials make plans to hold

HOUSTON – KPRC 2 recently reported on Blessed Hands Independent Homes, an unlicensed group home operating in southeast Harris County.

When discovered, investigators said, 37 people were living in the home in the 14000 block of Long Meadow Drive, near Scott Street and the Beltway, which was being operated by Carroll Richardson. In November 2019, he was charged with injury to a disabled individual after allegations that he caused bodily harm to a disabled person.

Carroll Richardson, November 2019 mug shot after being charged with Injury to Disabled Individual.
Carroll Richardson, November 2019 mug shot after being charged with Injury to Disabled Individual. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Group homes: By the numbers

KPRC 2 Investigates recently took a look at the number of unlicensed group homes operating in the city of Houston and Harris County. State Sen. Borris Miles, who represents the district where Richardson’s home was being operated, said sheriff’s officials have told representatives from his office there are 400 group homes in the county. Of them, roughly 160 unlicensed and are operating in the shadows, Miles said.

“We (have) got to get control of the rogue ones,” Miles said.

“If I were you, I’d start running like cockroaches do, because we are coming after you,” he added.

Miles said he plans on drafting legislation to improve oversight in 2021.

His targets? The medical systems which use unlicensed homes, rogue operators, landlords who lease homes to them, as well as HOAs which are not taking action against the facilities being run in their neighborhoods.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said he is especially concerned about holding property owners who rent to these unlicensed group home operators accountable for their participation in these types of facilities.

“The owner of the property should be held accountable," Gonzalez said. "They should know what is going on in their property at the end of the day, especially if they are collecting monies out of it.”

In the most recent case of an unlicensed group home highlighted by KPRC 2 Investigates, Richardson remains under investigation. Officials said that investigation has caught the attention of both state and federal prosecutors.

Robert Watson, an alleged victim discovered in the home Richardson operated, said he believes the accountability should not stop with the operator.

“Carroll Richardson getting locked up," Watson said. "The hospital being held accountable for sending patients to that house.”

Questions to ask before placement

So just what should you ask if you or a family member are seeking placement in a group home facility?

  • Can they present their license?
  • How long have they been there?
  • What is the staff to resident ratio?
  • Is there staff at the home around the clock?
  • What type of care to they provide?
  • How many residents currently?
  • What is the occupancy limit for the home?