In Texas, group homes operate in a gray area of regulation

DADS investigating facility on Burnet Road
DADS investigating facility on Burnet Road

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Not all group homes and boarding houses have to be regulated by the state. When they fall short of needing a state license, it’s up to local rules to decide on how much oversight the homes need.

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services is looking into Zoe’s Place at 8007 Burnet Road after complaints about air conditioning and an insect infestation. Austin Police records show emergency crews were called out to the Burnet Road address nearly 70 times since the beginning of the year. Although, it’s unclear when the boarding home moved in to the location. By comparison authorities were called to the address three times last year. The state regulator also recently investigated another Austin group home.

Austin City Council Member Ora Houston heads up the Health and Human Services Committee and is pushing for changes.

“There has been an issue with unregulated homes in this city for the last seven years,” said Austin City Council Member Ora Houston.

Houston says in 2009, the state passed standards for municipalities to regulate certain group homes, but Austin has not implemented those standards.

“We are still trying to figure that out,” said Houston. “We have been working very closely with the code department. We’ve been working with the fire department EMS and police because they serve these homes directly.”

Houston says city leaders plan to meet with the code department in September. Even though some homes may fall outside of the state and city oversight, Austin technically requires licenses for boarding facilities. The code department says there are currently 34 active boarding home licenses.

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