Proposed ordinance threatens boarding homes in Houston

Police say they have identified 441 boarding homes that could be covered by the proposed rule changes

HOUSTON - Unlicensed boarding houses could soon face tougher scrutiny if a proposed ordinance is passed by the Houston city council on Wednesday.

People who live near hundreds of unlicensed boarding homes, that are scattered throughout the city, have complained for years that they are a nuisance to neighborhoods and a potential danger to the residents who live in them.

Houston police say they have identified 441 boarding homes that could be covered by the proposed rule changes and subject to frequent inspections, licensing and other regulations, if the ordinance passes.

The owners of the boarding homes would also be required to keep updated records, submit to background checks and report criminal activity and deaths.

According to a recent study conducted by the Houston police department, many of the residents living in unlicensed boarding homes are subject to lack of basic care and lack of adequately trained staff members.

Many residents are also subject to psychological as well as physical abuse and neglect, according to the report.

HPD says its goal is to improve living conditions and the quality of life for the residents and decrease the potential for residents and employees to be victims of fraud, violence, abuse and neglect.

City leaders say the time is right for the ordinance to pass because the state legislature has passed a bill which authorizes municipalities to regulate unlicensed boarding homes.

Since the passage of Bill 215, El Paso, Dallas and San Antonio have passed ordinances now being considered by the city of Houston.

Mayor Annise Parker and city council will vote on the measure during Wednesday's regularly scheduled meeting.

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