“It’s not all that cosmetic. If you look at what will be inspected, it’s just basic things. Make sure the roof’s in good shape, make sure there’s paint on the outside [of the house], if window glass is in the windows instead of cardboard, things like that. [We want to make sure] the systems in the house, be they plumbing, electrical, gas, etc., are up to basic code. The idea is if this house is basically habitable, if it’s something people should be living in.”
Many citizens were in attendance to voice their concerns about the program. One resident, Randy Gover, said he was concerned about the adverse effect this code might have on elderly citizens on fixed income or families with low socioeconomic status who might not be able to afford fines and repairs if their homes were not up to code. He worried that the “little guys” of Mineral Wells might be driven out of their homes by being held to task, whereas commercial properties -- he referenced the famous, but derelict Baker Hotel -- would not be held accountable.
Howerton did his best to assuage these concerns, saying owner-occupied homes would only be inspected if the owner was selling the property or if a formal complaint was made about the house. He further explained that the committee sought to financially protect elderly homeowners on fixed income, adding that homes such as these likely would not need to be inspected until the home was sold either after the owner’s death or if they were to move into a nursing home, for example.
Mayor Mike Allen was complimentary of the Minimum Housing Code Committee.
“It takes a lot to impress me anymore, but this committee impressed me greatly with their conscientiousness, hard-work and what they did,” he said during the meeting. “I just wanted to take a minute to thank them. I thanked them already, but they were great.”