Work Group to House People with Sex Offense Histories Meeting Minutes
September 29, 2014

In attendance: Patricia Budd, Ludlow Jail, Bill Cawthra, Eliot CHS – Homeless Services, Carl Cignoni, Hampshire County House of Corrections/Dept of Corrections re-entry program, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Joe Critelli, Hampden County Sheriff’s Office, David Lepore, ServiceNet, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Jay Levy, Elliot CHs – Homeless Services, Emily Notoarfrancesco, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Angel Recchia, Franklin County Elder Protective Services,

November 12 meeting with Housing Providers
We reviewed our last meeting with housing providers in September – Valley CDC, HAPHousing, SMOC, Home City Housing – and the quality discussion that took place regarding the challenges/concerns housing providers face in housing sex offenders. All present agreed to meet again with additional agency “decision-makers” present. That meeting will take place on November 12, and we already have commitments from the CFO/COO of HAPHousing, Executive Director of Home City Housing, Board president and property managers of Valley CDC and the housing and shelter directors of SMOC. We agreed that our goal is to provide education and data on the issue (Laurie Guidry will lead the training), share successful experiences in housing this population (Rosa Blair of Springfield and Fred Smith of Boston will be invited), and to allow ample time for discussion. We agreed that tackling this issue in regional collaboration is the best chance for progress.

We agreed we need to brainstorm all types of assistance we can offer housing providers if/when they decide to engage with this population. We already have established very narrow criteria (on probation/parole, with case management, in treatment, etc.) but what else can we do? We need to bring that question and offer to the group.

We agreed work group representatives would include: Hampden and Hampshire County Sheriff’s Offfices, Jay Levy or Richard Hendrick (social worker perspective), Sgt. McMahon of Northampton and hopefully police rep from Springfield, and ServiceNet as experienced housing provider.

Springfield Republican newspaper article on housing sex offenders
We discussed the recent article in the Springfield Republican featuring the high number of sex offenders in one building (this is the property that Rosa Blair manages). We all agreed that the headline was inflammatory and harmful to our goals, in addition to the details surrounding some of the tenants’ criminal histories. But we also agreed that if you read the whole article and actually took in the facts, the reader could register that there are NO PROBLEMS with these tenants and there have been no incidents at all! We need to do what we can to increase that focus.

We agreed it would be interesting to explore an op-ed co-signed by region’s sheriff’s departments, offering perspective and education on what it would mean to house this population. Carl Cignoni agreed to draft some initial ideas.

Franklin County Sheriff’s office – new additions to our work group! – reported that they are struggling with housing options in their sub-region. We are pleased to have them join us.

We agreed to meet next following the next regional housing provider meeting .

Next meeting date: Wed., 11/19, 11 am – 12:15 pm, Northampton Senior Center


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