Monday, July 21, 2014

No Hoarding in Apartments in Houston

Governing ran a story, Houston Passes What May Be the Nation’s First Anti-Hoarding Law. Here is what the law addresses:

After residents and homeowners’ associations there clamored for help, the city council recently passed new regulations allowing police to inspect apartments receiving hoarding complaints. The police may refer hoarders to mental health services and, as a last resort, charge them with a misdemeanor carrying daily fines up to $500.

The article notes the issues arising from hoarding,  "includ[ing] rats breeding, bedbugs, fleas and other unsanitary conditions." The article mentions the challenge for police in determining whether a case is one of hoarding. With enforcement starting in October, 2014, a number of city agencies are working to get ready:

Multiple city departments are now working through the details of just how the new law will be carried out. Police will enforce the ordinance. The health department might be called in to assess mold or other health concerns. Public works staff may evaluate the structural integrity of units weighed down by piles of junk. The Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County and other outside agencies will also be key players.... [I]f the initial law goes well, the city may look to broaden it to include single-family homes if adequate funding exists.

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