Rooming Houses Like Site of Deadly Fire Stymie Houston Brass
HOUSTON (AP) — Rooming houses like the Houston facility where two residents died in a fire challenge lawmakers who want to improve inspections and code enforcement, without taking away living spaces for low-income residents.
The Houston Chronicle reports that officials don't know exactly how many rooming houses are in the city. But the Houston public complaints hotline has received more than 450 complaints since 2014 about "unsafe boarding houses." A state report previously counted more than 800 such facilities in Texas.
The newspaper found that in Houston, agencies don't share records effectively to identify houses most in need of inspection.
A March fire at the Briscoe's Place rooming house, with about 20 windowless bedrooms, killed two people trying to escape. One fire official called it a "maze."