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Boarding Homes

September 29, 1996

Re "Boarding Home Abductions on the Rise," Sept. 19:

The recent abductions provide a glimpse at a larger problem. Elderly and disabled persons are being abandoned in unlicensed "boarding homes," which provide nothing more than meals and beds. At best, the boarding homes' operators are untrained; at worst, as in this instance, the operators are capable of armed kidnapping.

If a facility houses elderly or disabled persons in need of care or supervision, the facility is required by law to have a board-and-care license. Unfortunately, unscrupulous operators ignore the law with little fear of ever being fined, prosecuted, or even pressured. The California Department of Social Services has little leverage--the department cannot revoke the license of a facility that has no license to begin with. Operation of an unlicensed facility is a misdemeanor, but potential cases generally are not pursued or prosecuted.

Abuses will continue until state and local prosecutors and the public put pressure on the shadowy operations of unlicensed facilities.

ERIC CARLSON, Director

Nursing Home Advocacy Project

Bet Tzedek Legal Services

Los Angeles

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