The city attorney is cracking down on independent living facilities that are posing a danger to their residents - and potentially neighbors.
City Attorney Mara Elliott's office is investigating about two-dozen of these facilities and prosecuting the operators of six, the office announced Wednesday.
The facilities, often inside single-family homes, are unregulated and unlicensed. They provide physically and mentally disabled persons a last chance to avoid homelessness. But Elliott said the operators often take advantage of residents. She said this came onto her radar after investigating a home last year.
"It was a horrible situation where 11 individuals were essentially being held captive in this home and didn't have sanitary facilities," she said. "The shower facilities were covered in feces, they didn't have food they didn't have ventilation, they didn't have access to telephones."
On Wednesday, Elliott's office announced charges against two more facilities, one on Parkbrook Lane in Skyline and another on Brandywood Street in North Bay Terraces. Operators and owners are charged with violations including vermin infestations, blocked exists, improper plumbing, and fire hazards.
People who live near the Parkbrook Lane home described shouting in the middle of the night, verbal harassment, physical fighting and graffiti.
"We moved because of it," said one neighbor, whose first name was Tammy.
The home had trash and old mattresses on the property. The owner, Evelyn Louise Peters, said the issues identified were only one-time instances and the trash accumulated after the home was vacated.
Sherry Lynn Bennett, who manages the home in North Bay Terraces, said the issues are being dealt with.
"The owners have been doing all the repairs, everything is done, everything's back to normal, we've done everything the city's said," Bennett said.
Bennett and Peters are charged with 22 misdemeanor violations of the health, safety and municipal codes.
There is no telling how many of these facilities exist in the county. In December, a man living in an El Cajon independent living home was beaten to death with a frying pan. El Cajon police had responded to calls at the home 78 times in the year leading up to the event.