Mental Health America of Texas Receives Grant to Promote Boarding Home Reforms in Texas
December 18, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas – Mental Health America of Texas and six affiliate chapters will work with Texas policy makers to write new model regulatory standards for boarding houses and promote their adoption in six Texas communities, with the help of a $96,769 grant from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.
Texas state agencies don't have the authority to inspect or regulate boarding homes, except in individually reported and investigated cases of abuse, neglect or exploitation. Cities and counties do have that authority, but most have not exercised it, according to Lynn Lasky Clark, Mental Health America of Texas president and chief executive officer.
"People with low incomes and disabilities often turn to boarding homes as a last resort for housing," Clark said. "However, many residents of Texas boarding houses have been financially exploited, exposed to hazardous conditions, and don't receive the services and care they need, particularly people with mental illness who may have behaviors or other issues that prevent them from being able to use other housing alternatives."
Clark noted that the problem has been chronicled in news reports and by advocates across the state. In response, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 216 earlier this year. The bill requires the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to develop model standards for boarding houses and reinforces the authority of local governments to regulate them. The goal is to protect the health and wellbeing of boarding house residents and provide housing opportunities that support recovery and rehabilitation of people with mental illness.
Mental Health America of Texas will take part in the public process of drafting state model regulations and will encourage consumers and their families to participate in the state and local regulatory processes. Affiliates in Abilene, Beaumont, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and Stafford will work with city and county public officials to encourage and assist in establishing local licensing and regulation of boarding houses.
"A safe, supportive place to live is crucial to good mental health. Yet, too many Texas residents with mental health conditions lack decent housing," said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr. executive director of the Hogg Foundation. "We are funding this project because it seeks to address a serious problem that is also an obstacle to recovery for many."
Mental Health America of Texas is one of four Texas groups that received a total of $265,348 in policy project grants from the Hogg Foundation this month. The foundation awarded the grants for projects that will lead to better understanding and improvements in policies and processes that affect Texas consumers of mental health services.
The Hogg Foundation was founded in 1940 by the children of former Texas Governor James Hogg, to promote improved mental health for the people of Texas. The foundation's grants and programs support mental health consumer services, research, policy analysis and public education projects in Texas. The foundation is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.
Mental Health America of Texas, is the oldest citizens' mental health advocacy and education organization in Texas. Founded in 1935 as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, Mental Health America of Texas reaches out to communities across Texas to promote mental health, prevent mental disorders, and improve the care and treatment of people with mental illnesses through education and advocacy.
Contact for Mental Health America of Texas: Toni Gardner, director of communications, (512) 454-3706, Ext. 218