SAN ANTONIO- Advocates for the mentally ill are pushing the city for boarding home regulations, after four men were killed in a fire last week.
Kym Bolado is president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness local chapter. The organization advocates for the mentally ill and educates the public. The organization is pairing up with Disability Rights of Texas to create a permitting process and safety standards for boarding homes.
Unlike an assisted living facility, boarding homes are not licensed by the state and do not provide services to residents, Bolado said. She estimates there are 120 homes in the city, but no one knows for sure because they're not registered with the city.
Currently, boarding homes are required to get a certificate of occupancy, but not all of them do. Bolado says with no oversight, home owners can sometimes exploit a "very vulnerable" population.
"We received a complaint in a boarding home that was operational and provided a board to sleep on and a sheet, no pillow," she said. The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services investigates those complaints.
Bolado says she wants the city to begin requiring permits and inspections. She thinks permits should be posted in the homes with the date of the inspection and said a phone should be available, should a resident need to call for help or make a complaint. She sees more expensive safety requirements further down the line, like fire sprinkler systems.
NAMI is partnering with Disability Rights of Texas to draw up recommendations for a local ordinance, based off ordinances in Dallas and Austin. The city has been working on an ordinance for about a year but keeps running into legal issues.