Work Group to House People with Sex Offense Histories
August 15, 2012

In attendance:  Carl Cignoni, DOC Re-entry Services Division and Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office,  Joe Critelli, Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, Karen Dean, Hampshire County Sheriff’s Department, Danielle DeBerry, ServiceNet, Hwei-Ling Greeney, Amherst Community Connections, Laurie Guidry, MATSA, Madeline Johnson, Hampshire County Sheriff’s Dept/AISS, Sally Johnson VanWright, Hampden County Sheriff’s Dept/Women’s Correctional  Center, Sgt. Anne McMahon, Northampton Police Department, Robin Powell, Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, Wanda Rolon, ServiceNet, Pamela Schwartz, network coordinator, Reikka Simula Gooden, Housing for All

Report back on sex offender data:

Laurie Guidry  cited an article from the Commonwealth Magazine, April 2012 on MA statistics: 12% of Level 3 offenders  (291) are listed as homeless.  291 homeless sex offenders.   Another 5% are listed as being in violation of reporting laws because SORB doesn’t know where they are.  Largest number of homeless are in Boston.  9% of population as a whole lives in Boston.  20% of Level 3’s live in Boston.  Gateway Cities include Springfield.  33 cities or towns have ordinances restricting where sex offenders can live.

Click here for link to article. 

Laurie is following up with Commonwealth Magazine re: more detailed data on Levels 1 and 2 and breakdown of Western Mass. info.

Will enlist interns from Hwei-Ling and Robin/Joe to research numbers with individual town/city phone calls to police departments.  Pamela will follow-up to assist with coordination of this effort.

Housing Outreach

Agreed to reach out to HAP executive director, Peter Gagliardi, regarding scheduling a meeting with high level directors (will connect with Steve Donato, Assistant Dir. Property Manager) about this.

Will reach out to SMOC to schedule initial meeting with Annmarie Vivenzio and Allison Maynard.  Work group members who would like to participate:  Richard Hendricks, Wanda Rolon, Ann McMahon, Carl Cignoni, Laurie Guidry

Potential future meeting site:  The Old Armory Grill as a meeting site – good location, good parking.  Make arrangements through Karen Dean.

Other Updates  (via Laurie Guidry):

Veterans Administration reached out and asked Laurie to do a presentation on sex offenders.  VA recognizes that there are not good practices in place for sex offenders.  Willing to examine new practices – aware that if VA can launch a pilot, it could be useful across the state in other venues.

Outreach from Liz Rogers , director of Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness – interested in becoming better informed around issue.

Special Guest:  Whitney Holovach, education and outreach coordinator for Mass. Fair Housing Center

Presented on distinctions between HUD and DHCD regulations regarding the legality of housing sex offenders.

Having a criminal history is not a protected category.  Therefore, you’re not technically discriminated against if not in that category.

HUD lists 5 categories – if fit in to one of them – must be denied.  Others “may be denied”

If you are subject to lifetime registration by the sex offender registry, you are excluded from housing.  Could be Level 2 or Level 3.

Housing authority may deny applicants “whose habits and practices reasonably may be expected to have a detrimental effect on housing environment.”

State does not have the same regs.  State screens out those whose past behavior, if repeated, would violate the lease.  State housing does not have list of “must” denials.

The defining factor for both federally and state funded housing (if on the federal side you do not have to register for life):  THERE IS DISCRETION.

Agreed that education around these regulations is critical for all housing agencies as we move forward in our outreach.

Next meeting – Wed.,  10/3, 1pm, Northampton Senior Center (to be confirmed).   Between now and then, we will aim to have meetings with HAP and SMOC.

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