Room and Board Coalition Model Spreads
Disability Rights California have investigated squalid conditions at a number of unlicensed room and board homes serving adults with psychiatric disabilities across the state. One provider in San Bernardino County was housing residents with psychiatric disabilities in chicken coops which had been converted into barracks-style housing. Residents were using buckets as toilets. Meals, cooked in a makeshift open-air “M.A.S.H. type” kitchen, were served to residents on outdoor picnic tables, rain or shine.
Conditions were similar at an unlicensed home in Sacramento County where a portable, plastic “Tuff Shed” with a two burner propane camping stove set up in the yard served as the facility’s kitchen space. Dirty dishes were stacked on a table in the yard to be cleaned with a garden hose that was lying nearby on the ground. Debris was littered across the premises. In both cases, because the facilities are unlicensed, county and state officials were slow to respond to resident complaints and lack enforcement authority.
Disability Rights California assisted local advocates to establish a peer-driven advisory coalition to improve conditions in these unlicensed facilities. This coalition provides the resources, such as an online listing of good homes, conflict resolution processes, and unannounced on-site inspections to ensure that consumers are protected, empowered, and can make informed decisions about where and with whom they live.
Presentations by Disability Rights California of this model at state-wide mental health conferences have been “standing room only” as advocates and consumers clamor for models of addressing this issue of the limited availability of suitable housing. Disability Rights California has published a consumer friendly publication about housing rights.