After 2 On Your Side investigation, state to open inquiry into filthy living conditions
BATON ROUGE - The Department of Health and Hospitals is investigating an independent living facility after a 2 On Your Side investigation Friday.
Issues abound at Brittany's Place off Burbank Drive, where people are crammed into units.
Inside one, where Jason Drew's brother lives, there are no working smoke alarms, the only working toilet is stopped up, there's mold growing around the cabinets and on the floors, and the sink is inoperable.
There's also a huge hole in the ceiling exposing the sub-floor above. Drew said it's been that way for more than a year.
"I wouldn't let my dog stay over here," Drew said.
Drew said his brother has been living at Brittany's Place for four years.
"He's supposed to have his own bedroom with his own bathroom."
Instead, he lives in a three-bedroom apartment with five other people. Drew handles his brother's finances and pays his rent of $866 from his social security check. He told WBRZ 2 On Your Side reporter Brittany Weiss, his brother is a diagnosed paranoia schizophrenic bipolar and dozens of other people with mental illness live at Brittany's Place.
"Some of them are parolees and you know, offenders, and then they have small children on the property as well," he said.
While living there, tenants are served meals three times a day.
"They cook for all the residents, they give out medicine and they're not licensed to give out medicine," he said.
Drew has had enough. He doesn't want his brother living like this and doesn't think he should have to.
DHH said there are many "businesses" that are not regulated that offer a place to stay, something to eat, and not much else in exchange for residents' social security check. There is not much it can do from a licensing perspective.
Issues were featured in a 2 On Your Side report Friday. For the TV story, WBRZ tried to talk with Brent Honore of Harvey Honore Construction Company, who said he takes care of people and makes sure they get their medication. Honore did not want to be interviewed on television but said a lot of people living at Brittany's Place are staying there rent free and the money to keep up the place comes out of his pocket. He said it costs anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 to operate each month and does not get any assistance from the government.
DHH said although it does not have the regulatory authority, the WBRZ story would be considered as a complaint - now the third received about Honore's facility. It is contacting the State Fire Marshal's Office regarding concerns about the conditions of the building and will be notifying Honore about the complaints. DHH is also attempting to determine whether or not Honore is doing prison re-entry and what that entails. It will also determine if he has a large population of folks with mental illness and if so, where they are being treated.
The Louisiana Department of Corrections said it does not refer parolees to Brittany's Place and does not make Brittany's Place an option.
Drew said he's not sure what his brother's rent money is used for since he's living in such poor conditions.
"Just the way he's been treated over here it's almost like an animal," he said.
He is currently looking for a new home for his brother.