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Houston Group Homes Come Under Scrutiny

Unlike some other major cities in Texas, Houston doesn't regulate boarding houses and group homes. But local officials say they need more oversight of such establishments to make sure the homes are operated safely.


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The Houston Police Department reports there are 441 known boarding homes in the city.

Most of the group homes are well-run and safe, but there were more than 1,300 calls for service to boarding homes last year. What concerns HPD officers is nearly half of the calls originated from just 35 of the homes.

“Some of these homes provide an abusive environment or a substandard environment for the people who live there.”

Houston Mayor Annise Parker says a new ordinance will require group homes and boarding houses to register with the city and be subject to inspections.

“We are requiring all group homes to list themselves with the city, so we know where they are, how many live there, and we have an opportunity to go in and expect.”

Houston Police officers requested the new ordinance which will allow them to run background checks on employees and enter the homes without a warrant. An HPD presentation to city councilmembers included disturbing photos of disrepair, neglect and filth in some of the facilities. Councilmember Ed Gonzalez pushed for the new regulations.

“This at least creates a step forward, a way for us to get a foot in the door, if you will, to allow a more proactive type of investigations to make sure that individuals are not living in deplorable conditions.”

Councilmembers tabled a vote on the ordinance this week, but will make a final decision on it next week. San Antonio, Dallas and El Paso already have ordinances to regulate and inspect group homes.

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Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

News Director

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez leads news coverage for Houston Public Media across broadcast and digital platforms. Ramirez is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Before becoming News Director, Ramirez held the position of Executive Producer for Daily News, leading daily and breaking news coverage, helping...

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