HOUSTON -- Houston City Council passed an ordinance Wednesday that makes it illegal to be a hoarder in an apartment, townhome or condominium complex.
But critics say hoarders are typically discovered in single family homes, like the case last month on the northwest side where two 60-year-old twin sisters were discovered in a filthy home filled with garbage, animal feces and 130 cats.
Some Houston residents said the law is too limited.
“Equal, it should be equal. Not just apartments,” said Rosa Garza of southeast Houston. “They're going to do one thing to one person. I say it should be equal.”
Mayor Annise Parker said you have to start somewhere and she felt addressing the problem of hoarders in multi-family units was a good first step because the risk of endangering others is higher than in single family homes.
Councilmember-at-large Michael Kubosh wondered exactly how hoarders will come to the attention of authorities.
"How is this gonna be brought to light,” said Kubosh. “By smell, by infestation and I know the danger to others, but it's like are we gonna have to have a stink-o-meter?"
Under the new city law, neighbors would call police and officers would make a welfare check. The hoarder could then be fined $500 a day if they do not cooperate with efforts to clean up their home and get some help for themselves.
"By having the ordinance, it allows us a right of entry. It allows us the opportunity for an intervention," said Mayor Parker.