AUSTIN – What investigators say was an intentionally set fire in northeast Austin Monday morning is casting a spotlight on what are called board and cares, like boarding houses for low income elderly, and people with mental and physical challenges.
Fire Investigators say Monday at 6 a.m. Becca Gallardo, a client at Hannah’s Place, a board and care on Running Bird Lane, intentionally set a fire in a room she shared with five other clients.
Gallardo was later charged with arson.
The owner of Hannah’s Place, Terrie Smith told KVUE that she hasn’t had working smoke detectors in the facility for two years.
"With me being a small business, the finances I operate on, we weren't able to have it in our budget,” said Smith.
Angela Atwood, the C.E.O. of Family Eldercare, a non-profit providing services for seniors and people with disabilities told KVUE that board and cares are not regulated by any city nor state agency. However, the city of Austin has created a taskforce to look into the issue.
“The board and cares don't usually check criminal backgrounds, or credit, or things like that and those kinds of checks are real barriers to a lot of folks who experience homelessness,” added Atwood.
The city of Austin created a taskforce to look at board and cares and what, if anything, can be done to ensure they’re run properly.
Terrie Smith was cited by the fire department for not having working smoke detectors.
Smith told KVUE she hopes to be back in Hannah’s Place in another three weeks.