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Task force convenes to target problems at group homes

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BATON ROUGE- A group of leaders in our community from various state entities convened at the Louisiana State Capitol Friday to discuss the group home problem plaguing our state and what can be done to create more oversight.

Currently, group homes can operate without getting a license, and there are few regulations if any that owners have to abide by to start taking people in. During testimony presented at the capitol, it was revealed that 28 group homes are operating in the Sherwood Forest area. Out of those 28, 18 of them hold no licenses from the state for the amount of people that are living in those homes.

The task force meeting comes after a year's worth of reports that showed individuals living in squalor at multiple group homes across the city. State Senator Regina Barrow had enough and convened the task force to meet to come up with proposed changes.

"There needs to be some level of licensing," Barrow said. "We need to know where they are. We need to know who they are and where they are operating."

Barrow said based off of the testimony today, it appears there's a crisis trying to find housing for those with mental health problems in our community.

Cathleen Hyde works with those with mental health issues in the community. She said there needs to be more regulations.

"There's no one looking out for the individuals," Hyde said. "No one is making sure the conditions are appropriate or that the homes are sanitary or medications are dispensed properly."

"I see some emerging legislation for the session next year," said State Fire Marshal Butch Browning, a task force member.

Technical assistance for those already running group homes, and running them well, was discussed by the task force today along with setting up a registry and a hotline for people to call with problems.

The next meeting is scheduled for September 28.

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