Welome to my community page

Austin Group Home Summit

2015 Group Home Summit: 
Concerns grew after a murder occurred at a group home within the boundaries of the MLK Neighborhood Association in Austin Texas.
I partnered with the Martin Luther King Neighborhood Association to lead a stakeholder engagement process to address concerns over safety issues at group homes in Austin Texas.

Three meetings were held over a 3 month period engaging 72 stakeholders. I helped facilitate a three step community process of understanding through dialogue.

Step One: Bias identification, emerging leadership, defining the issue
Step Two: Leadership meeting, refining the question(s)
Step Three: Re-engage for dialogue

Step One: Bias identification, emerging leadership, defining the issue:

At the first community meeting I moderated a panel discussion with the community and: Division Manager, Austin Code Department, a group Home Owner, APD- District Representative, and Austin Fire Department Representative.  Through this initial stakeholder engagement process participants began to identify bias, ask questions for knowledge and leaders stepped forward to help facilitate subsequent meetings.   Emotions were expressed and worked through by neighbors, home operators and other stakeholders.  Bias' were challenged and common ground was identified in an overarching goal to:


Improve safety at group homes in our neighborhood and throughout Austin.

 Data was collected during this meeting and.volunteer, self identified community leaders stepped forward to participate in a subsequent organizing meeting.

 Step Two: Leadership Team Meeting, Refining the question(s):

I coded and sorted data gathered from the first meeting to identify bias, questions that were not clarified or were open ended, these were summarized and presented to the leadership team.  

The leadership team met to review the coded data.  Through review, the team identified the following three emerging objectives:
  • Gain knowledge through interactions with City of Austin employees.   
  • Increase stakeholder engagement with neighbors, residents of group homes, non-profit social service agencies and group home owner/operators. 
  • Establish recommendations for the City of Austin City Council based on data gathered through research and stakeholder engagement  

The Leadership team identified discussion items which were productive and led to discussion.
through review and discussion six questions were identified.  The next step in the stakeholder process was identified as having another citywide stakeholder engagement meeting with small group breakout sessions led by leadership team, asking the six questions after providing back-up information.  The leadership team elected to use a modified version of the Conversation Cafe' to help lead the dialogue process.
 The questions:
  1. How would you define a group home? 
  2. How would you define a treatment program? 
  3. Do residents of group homes have individual leases and tenant rights?  
  4. Should registration of group homes be required, voluntary, other or none? 
  5. If there is a registration for group homes what should inspection be if any? 
  6. Who would provide registration inspection, (code enforcement, city contracted agency, self report by homes, other or none)? 
Step Three: Re-engage for Dialogue:
The six questions were taken to the next meeting of stakeholders and volunteer stakeholder leaders followed the modified Conversation Cafe Process as they facilitated dialogue.  Every participant had a sheet of the questions and were encouraged to record their thoughts. The facilitators also had a sheet and recorded responses. 

Recommendations: The responses from the breakout session meeting were coded and sorted by Bucknall Consulting and resulted in the following summary recommendations:  (listed from first with highest support to last recommendation with least number of supportive responses):
Mandatory registration and inspections 
Specified tenants and owner/operator rights. 
Occupancy (in residential areas) limited to fewer than 15 people 
Basic health and safety  bathroom- to-person and square foot- bedroom-space-to-person ratios. 
Safe storage and reminder system for medications for residents. 
Geographic dispersion of homes 
Notification of neighborhoods before a group home is established 
Group home staff  training requirements  
Food preparation by trained staff with food handler permit 
Health and cleanliness standards including pest management, sewage, water, air and other basic requirements. 
Owner/operators of homes, employees or designees of group homes not function as representative payee for any resident during any period at which time they have an active lease with the home. 
Supervision of registration and inspections by the City of Austin through: Code Enforcement City/Vendor Contract. City of Austin partnership with Travis County, Austin Tenants Council, or other area non-profit agency.

Stakeholders discussed the need for funding, “If Code Enforcement does this they should have extra funding.  APD, EMS AFD could collect data on number of emergencies and disturbances.” 


Through this process the stakeholders felt a large amount of support from Council-member Ora Houston.  After several additional hearings on the issue Council-member Houston authored and was successful in passing a related City ordinance.  The new rule established reasonable accommodation guidelines for board and care (group homes)  which are not otherwise regulated by the state.  This is a great example of direct stakeholder engagement that result in action.  Although this is an important first step we all must continue to work for those in our community who are all too often forgotten.  

For a map of Austin group homes click here.

Here are number of group homes by zip code:

Zip code       # of homes 

78721..................4

78723..................23

78724..................7

78725..................1

78733..................1

78741..................3

78721..................4

78744..................9

78747..................2

78751..................1

78752..................4

78754..................1

78758..................9

78617..................1

78644..................1

78660..................1

78664..................1

78704..................3

78644..................1

This is not a comprehensive list and may inlcude homes which are no longer operating.  Data sources include casemanagers, home opperators and 311 online.


Website Builder