MERRILLVILLE | Some Merrillville officials support a proposed ordinance requiring owners of group homes to register their facilities with the town.
Town Council President Carol Miano said she began pursuing such a measure after operators of Gary group homes were charged with neglecting and abusing residents.
Miano said the town has identified 23 group homes in Merrillville, but there could be others the municipality doesn't know exist.
Requiring group homes to register with Merrillville would create an accurate listing of the facilities and their locations, advocates of the proposal said. If an ordinance is adopted, Merrillville wouldn't charge a registration fee, Miano said.
Miano said she also wants to verify whether people running group homes are licensed caregivers and that residents are receiving adequate care.
Police Chief Joseph Petruch agrees group home regulations are needed. The regulations would allow officials to learn who is operating the group homes and keep the facilities accountable.
Miano said Merrillville would ensure the ordinance doesn't seek information that would violate laws regarding medical privacy.
Miano also has proposed a requirement for a sign to be posted at each group home so they can be easily identified.
Councilman Richard Hardaway said he understands the safety concerns Miano has expressed, but he thinks identifying group homes could make them a target for possible harassment.
"We should let them stay anonymous," Hardaway said.
Merrillville's legal representation is investigating Miano's proposal to determine what rules the town could set for group homes.