Welcome to Constable Precinct 5. Today is

HOME CONTACT INFO OUR SERVICES FEES ABOUT US POLICIES CONSTABLE HISTORY FORMS CONNECTIONS DEPUTY CENTRAL
EXPERTS IN CIVIL PROCESS CLASS C WARRANTS DISABLED PARKING VOLUNTEER PROGRAM CONSTABLE'S NOTEBOOK PHOTO GALLERY CN5 IN THE NEWS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESOURCES
Constable Carlos Lopez and his deputies assist the citizens and courts of Travis County

Carlos B. Lopez, Constable

Travis County Courthouse Complex


24/7 Civil Process Service Check

Enter to Search by Cause No. or Name

Cause:

Name: 

Helpful tips for finding the correct listing
Bruce Elfant

Bruce Elfant

Notebook Archives



Constable's Notebook - April 2010

Last year the Austin police department, EMS and the Fire Department responded about 840 times to just seven addresses in northeast Austin at a cost of over $1 million. So what do these addresses have in common? Each of these locations is a group home for adults who are disabled, elderly or mentally impaired and who are in need of quality, safe, supervised housing. The University Hills Neighborhood Association Group Home Task Force which includes residents of Coronado Hills, Creekside, Pecan Springs, Springdale and Windsor Park neighborhoods, compiled this data and estimates that there are about 40 such group homes - predominately in northeast Austin. Many group homes which are located in residential areas and have questionable sanitary or safety conditions, reportedly house 20 or more individuals. Police reports indicate that group home employees have been implicated in home invasions, assault and criminal trespass. It has been reported that residents are required to sign over their Social Security checks to the group home operators.

A friend of mine who lives across the street from a group home and has endured dozens of emergency responses at all hours, has observed poor living conditions, a lack of oversight and some criminal activity. She has called city code enforcement officials, city council members and her state representative. Each time she was told that there was nothing anyone could do. In Texas there are no state regulations for group homes that do not provide medical care. Cities have attempted to regulate group homes but a 1995 U.S. Supreme Court ruling (City of Edmonds v. Oxford House, Inc., et. al.) that addressed certain discriminatory aspects regarding prior attempts at enforcement, resulted in local governments backing away from regulating group homes altogether.

Legislation to authorize local governments to license and regulate group homes was introduced in the 2007 session of the Texas Legislature but failed to pass. In 2009 Representative Jose Menendez (San Antonio) and Senator Eliot Shapleigh (El Paso) sponsored and passed HB 216 that directed the Texas Department of Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to establish September 1, 2010 model regulations that cities and counties could adopt in order to license and regulate group homes. HHSC has held a public hearing and released a first draft of proposed regulations. Last fall the Austin City Council directed city staff to work with HHSC and recommend a proposed ordinance to permit and regulate group homes.

It is not yet clear whether a proposed city ordinance will be ready by September or if funding could be appropriated as a part of the next city budget. What is known is that group home residents currently have no protection from incompetent or unscrupulous operators. Residents have had to endure intolerable conditions and taxpayers shell out millions of dollars each year to provide emergency services response for unregulated homes. Here’s hoping that City officials will move as quickly as possible to provide reasonable protections for group home residents – and for their neighbors.



Video Icon

Watch a video How Travis County Constables help in our communities

Video Icon

Watch a video Constable 5 Wins Award for Domestic Violence Initiative

Learn more Stop teen dating violence