At a recent city council meeting discussion was initiated regarding unanswered questions on the actions and arrangements at the Shiloh Treatment Center. The facility is located in Manvel’s northern Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) at 3926 Bahler Avenue (CR 100) and has been the subject of controversy for years as a cloud of secrecy encompasses the facility on what actually goes on there and the manner in which funds are being spent. It has been reported that federal tax payers were burdened with a price tag in the neighborhood of $5 million last year. The center is reported to have 32 beds. At a $5 million funding level the numbers break down as follows: $416,666 per month, $96,154 per week, and $13,699 per day. The daily per bed rate would be some $428. According to a Houston Chronicle article last December, the federal government has paid more than $13 million to the Center since 2009.
Last year the facility once again found itself on the radar of city officials subsequent to the influx of illegal children that poured across the southern border when it was learned that some of those children would be housed at the facility. Manvel Mayor Delores Martin made inquiries of the facility but received no satisfaction. Concerns expressed to federal officials resulted last summer in a group led by Congressman Pete Olsen to pay a visit to the site in an effort to get answers to its operation. As was the case with Mayor Martin, Olsen also was given little satisfaction in his efforts. Olsen reportedly followed up with inquiries of the federal agency charged with oversight of the facility but again was reported to receive only a standard “boiler plate” response that did little to nothing to allay concerns many maintain today.
A website for Shiloh Treatment Center provides little information other than reporting it as specializing in providing treatment services for children and youth with behavioral and emotional problems. In addition to the residential services the site claims to also provide day treatment and numerous outpatient psychiatric and counseling services.
Council member Melody Hanson requested the matter be put on the council agenda to provide a backstory on what she learned at a meeting she attended with the Mayor and fellow member Lew Shuffler. While acknowledging there is nothing the council can do regarding the facility as it does set outside the city’s limits, she did not want to remain silent and wants her fellow citizens to be aware of how their tax dollars are being spent. She feels the reported abuses indicate the children are not being adequately provided for. She considers the operation a “sham” and would like to see the place closed and feels it will only be so when tax payers come together and say stop.
Member Lew Shuffler said he visited the facility on four occasions and never found one person on site. He said he did not even see a vehicle and they “were supposed to be housing kids there.”
Shiloh’s president is a man named Clay Hill. After Mayor Martin raised questions last summer he reportedly contacted her to request a meeting. Martin said she would be happy to allow him to state his case in front of an open city council meeting but he has yet to respond to the invitation.
A similar facility owned by the same entity controlled by Hill was shut down by the state in 2011 after numerous investigations of abuse and even two deaths of children staying there. The Daystar Residential Treatment Center, like Shiloh today, received much scrutiny from county law enforcement with the District Attorney pursuing criminal charges from the abuse allegations and even sending letters to the state and federal agency charged with oversight of the facility.
Council member Hanson, like many in the county, hopes the publicity reaches citizens and eventually leads to a closure of the facility. According to the Chronicle article, Shiloh’s grant runs through 2016.