Legislative Update and Local News

Hello, everybody!  I hope that all of you volunteer and professional advocates alike have had ample time to recuperate after the busy session!  Wish I could say the same for our state legislators and their staff, who have now entered their 3rd Special Session. Sheesh! I just want to share two quick updates in this post.

83rd Regular Legislative Session Wrap-Up

For those who are interested, I wanted to give you the opportunity to check out MHA Houston’s 83rd Legislative Wrap-Up.  This is a pretty comprehensive look at the legislative and budget initiatives that passed during the regular session that affect mental health and substance abuse services.  Please download a copy here and feel free to distribute.  If you’d like a hard copy, please let me know.

Finally!  Boarding Homes Regulations Come to Houston

Last Wednesday, July 24th, the Houston City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that will regulate boarding homes in the city of Houston for the first time.  Boarding homes serve an important role in the continuum of care for people with mental illness and other disabilities, and the majority of them provide safe and affordable
living quarters for their residents.  However, some boarding homes have
been found to engage in abusive behavior, including the withholding of their
residents’ social security checks, failing to provide food and other basic
necessities and treating residents as commodities rather than clients.

The Houston ordinance will require all boarding homes to register with the
City; conduct criminal background checks on employees; maintain appropriate records; develop a fire safety plan and submit to annual fire safety inspections; and publicly post information regarding resident rights, as well as the toll-free Department of Family
and Protective Services hotline to report abuse, neglect and
exploitation.  There are over 400 known boarding homes in the city of
Houston, while potentially dozens more are flying under the radar.

MHA Houston has been working on this issue for over 4 years and thanks all the individuals and organizations who partnered with us to make this a reality.  Special thanks go to Mayor Pro Tem Ed Gonzalez and the Houston Police Department Mental Health Division for their invaluable efforts!

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Until next time (whenever that may be)!