Thursday morning during citizen comments at the Lubbock City Council meeting, two women addressed the pros and cons of having group homes in residential areas. The opposition says they're not against the concept of care in homes, but rather how many people they are putting under one roof.
A three bedroom house in Central Lubbock was almost bought by private investors. They wanted to transform it for 13 people to live in. It would have become a group home. A place to care for handicapped people, in a residential area. But the zoning board of adjustments denied the request last month. "The proponents were asking that we amend the ordinance to make it tighter," said Tom Martin, City Councilman.
Cathy Mottet would like to see that happen and has addressed the issue to city council. "For the city to not allow homes to be partitioned off to where they can slash a home and fit 13-18 patients in such a home where the home loses it's integrity of being a family home," she told NewsChannel 11.
In a document from the zoning department, we found that for the past 11 years, at least 11 group homes have been approved to house five people or more. So this begs the question; is group home care turning into big business?
Kenna Ortega denied our offer for an interview. She's the one who was going to buy the house and provide care for 13 elderly people. She says group homes are not to be taken negatively because group homes provide better one-on-one care in a home-like environment. And even with 13 people under one roof, she claims she could have done just that following state standards.
"Once you partition off a living room a dining room and garage, you no longer have a family environment. You have a business a big business in a neighborhood," said Mottet.
NewsChannel 11 has confirmed 10 group homes in Southwest Lubbock, eight in Central Lubbock, seven in Northeast Lubbock, four in East Lubbock and one in North Lubbock. A total of 30 group homes throughout the city.
The ordinance allows up to four people to live in group homes. If the group home is to have five or more, owners must have special permission from the zoning board. The city council says they will take a look at this ordinance at a future city council meeting.