The City Council's Group House Party

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Dallas has been trying to get a handle on group housing for years, dating back -- at least -- to the Boarding House Task Force formed in June '07, which consisted of everything from code compliance to Dallas Fire-Rescue to the City Attorney's Office. That was but one of myriad attempts made to deal with the issue since, a history of which is contained in this morning's briefing before the council.

The briefing defines group housing facilities thusly: "an interim or permanent residential facility that provides room/board to a group of persons who are not a family, regardless of whether it is operated for profit." And per the City Code, a group housing facility could be referring to a boarding house or a residential hotel or a "handicapped group dwelling unit," all of which have different definitions and requirements. As in: There can't be more than eight people (including staff) living in a handicapped facility, while a halfway house is capped at "no more than 50 residents on probation or parole."

The city says there are 278 group homes operating citywide, most south of downtown and that 48 were guilty of some kind of violation last year. And the crackdowns will continue while City Attorney Tom Perkins finishes writing what the briefing calls "a registration ordinance to enhance the City's ability to identify and monitor handicapped group dwelling units."

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