AUSTIN – A case of arson at a North Austin "board and care" Monday is shining a spotlight on other such facilities citywide.
Caregivers told KVUE the fear is that the publicity could cast a negative light on the 40 to 50 board and cares believed to be in Austin.
KVUE News learned Monday that none of the board and cares, board homes for low-income seniors and folks with physical and mental challenges, are regulated.
Some local experts say there are plenty of legitimate board and cares in Austin which are serving a vital role in the community by giving the less fortunate a place to live.
“It gives disabled people who live off of a budget a chance to live in the community in a normal home setting, meals everyday. To live daily life. To say it regrettably or sadly, probably on the streets. If there weren't places like this, probably on the streets,” said Darcy Johnson, a client at a northeast Austin facility which caters to men.
The home is run by Picture Perfect Cooperative Living, which owns 11 board and cares in Austin.
“Many of these people had some sort of accident or some sort of life-changing medical issue that took them away from being a productive member of society. It's a great melting pot of people, from people with ninth grade educations -- all the way up the people who some here have Bachelor's degrees,” said Neal Klein, one of the co-owners of Picture Perfect.
A taskforce created by Austin leaders that focuses on whether local board and cares should be regulated has disbanded -- while facilities continue popping up in all Austin neighborhoods. Experts blame a lack of affordable housing in Austin.
“From the human perspective, the ethics perspective, this population deserves a place to call home just as much any of the rest of us do,” added Klein.