Griggs proposes group home ordinance

City Council member Scott Griggs, who garnered local fame in his opposition to adding permanent supportive housing at Cliff Manor two years ago, is proposing a city ordinance to regulate government-subsidized group homes.

There are an estimated 317 group homes in Dallas, though there may be far more flying under the radar, and the city does not regulate them, Griggs says. There are good group homes. The Well Community, for instance, offers group-home living with trained supervisors, counseling and a first-world tenant-to-bathroom ratio. But there are bad group homes too. Some have 12 people per bathroom with little or no staff to keep an eye on residents.

The ordinance would define what a group home is, as well as what a bedroom is. For example, a bedroom couldn’t be a passage to another room, as is the case in some group homes now, Griggs says. The ordinance also will define what a kitchen is, as some “bad” group homes have substandard kitchens. And it will provide an acceptable tenants-per-bathroom ratio.

Along with standards for living conditions, group homes will have to provide sound records of tenants’ finances. Group homes accept social security and disability checks on behalf of their tenants and then give them a stipend.

Under the proposed ordinance, group homes would be required to hire trained staff, and they would be required to attend continuing education classes.

Mental Health America is helping Griggs identify “good” group homes that have extra capacity for any group-home tenants that might be displaced due to the ordinance.

Griggs presented the ordinance to the Housing Committee Monday, and the committee will take it up again at its next meeting. Griggs hopes the full council will pass the ordinance in May, before the break, and that it could be in place this fall.


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