SAN ANTONIO – The city is considering stricter regulations on group boarding homes, just a few months after a facility for the mentally disabled went up in flames, killing four residents.
City council is scheduled to talk about more regulations at its B-Session meeting Wednesday afternoon. Several boarding home owners are expected to attend.
There are no specific details yet on what the regulations would be, but local advocacy groups say they’ve been part of the conversation.
August’s fatal fire revealed shocking information about the conditions inside the boarding home on Norwood. Since 2005, city code compliance crews visited 15 times and found several violations for minimum housing standards.
"Oversight is necessary,” Kym Bolado with the National Alliance on Mental Illness says.
She says there are at least 120 boarding homes for the mentally disabled in San Antonio.
Bolado’s met with the city about possible regulations.
Council agenda documents show the city is considering new guidelines on everything from how boarding homes are built to how residents take their medications.
"We believe it should be a systematic approach in which we evaluate the impact before we move into implementing anything at this point,” Bolado says.
She worries if regulations become too strict, too soon, the vulnerable residents could become homeless.
"Most, if not all, of the boarding homes will either close they'll be forced to go underground,” Bolado says.
She hopes advocacy groups can help the city strike the right balance, with the ultimate goal of preventing tragedies like the one on Norwood.