For many low income Texans with mental health conditions, unregulated boarding homes are often one of the few options available besides homelessness. Although well managed boarding homes do exist, too often the facilities available would not meet minimum health and safety standards. These homes are usually funded by the residents’ Social Security disability stipends. Unregulated boarding homes can undermine the mental health recovery efforts of residents.

With support of advocacy efforts from Mental Health America (MHA) of Greater Dallas, the Dallas City Council voted unanimously in June of 2012 to pass a Boarding Home Ordinance regulating boarding homes within the city limits of Dallas, Texas. The ordinance generally established the Texas Boarding House Model Standards as City Code. The standards were developed by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission as required by the 81st Texas Legislature and approved for the regulation of boarding home facilities. It provided that counties and municipalities may require the issuance of a permit to operate a boarding home facility within its jurisdiction. Counties and municipalities may adopt the model standards developed and may require a boarding home holding a permit issued by the county or municipality to comply with the adopted model standards.

Subsequently, the Hogg Foundation funded a grant to support a “Boarding Home Policy Expansion and Technical Assistance” project with MHA of Greater Dallas. As a part of that funding, an on-line resource was created providing tools and resources related to regulating boarding homes. It provides a summary of the progress MHA of Greater Dallas has made on boarding home reform. It also maintains a current list of licensed homes within Dallas.

MHA of Greater Dallas continues to advocate for similar reforms in Dallas County suburbs and the other counties throughout their region, as well as the state.