Work Group to House People With Sex Offense Histories
June 4, 2014
In attendance: Ellie Harris, ServiceNet, Richard Hendrick, clinical social worker, Madeline Johnson, Hampden County House of Corrections, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services
Reviewed meeting agenda and content for meeting with housing providers scheduled for 6/11/14.
- Training portion – Laurie Guidry, 45 minutes
- Treatment for people with sex offense histories during and after incarceration – Joe Critelli and Madeline Johnson, Hampden County Sheriff’s Office, 15 minutes
- Housing provider experience – Rick Wilhite, Ellie Harris, Laurie Smith, ServiceNet
- Law enforcement perspective – Sgt. Anne McMahon, Northampton Police Department, 10 minutes
- Discussion, Q&A
- Next steps, next meeting date
Agreed that it is important to emphasize the low rate of re-offense among this population, point to Rosa Blair’s experience in Springfield (10 years, tenants primarily people with sex offense histories); Fred Smith in Boston, ServiceNet.
Meeting attendees include:
Home City Housing – Ron Cote, insurance person?
HAPHousing – Faith Williams, lawyer?
Valley CDC – Joanne Campbell and a board member
SMOC – Alison Maynard and Matt Castleman
Pamela will follow-up to confirm attendees.
Work group members attending:
Laurie Guidry, expert
Rick Wilhite, Ellie Harris, Laurie Smith, ServiceNet
Joe Critelli, Madeline Johnson, Hampden County Sheriff’s Department
Sgt. Anne McMahon, Northampton Police Department
Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services
Brainstormed hand-out for meeting. Agreed on providing our proposed Network criteria for discussion:
Proposed Criteria for Consideration for Housing Person with Sex Offense History
Available only to single adults seeking individual (non-family) housing
- On probation and/or parole
- Attached to services such as sexual abuse, mental health or substance abuse treatment as deemed necessary
- Committed to living an offense-free life
- Designated contact person for communicating regarding tenancy, i.e,. a commitment to work with the landlord on any issues that arise
On discussion pertaining to dealing with other tenant reactions: ServiceNet informs tenants up front that they have a policy of admitting people who may have had sex offenses; does not provide the information in relation to anyone specifically. Level 3 offenders are in the public realm, so up to other tenants to find out. Everyone is subject to the same terms of tenancy.
We agreed on the importance of offering support to landlords to manage tenant reactions. Noted the value of naming the moral, ethical and fairness issues that are inherent to this housing challenge. We should also remind landlords to not assume that other tenants would necessarily have a negative reaction. Richard has found many to be sympathetic. Of course we need to be prepared for upset and at the ready with interventions.
Ideas to consider further regarding this issue:
- Designated liaison (per our criteria for admission, for person with sex offense history) could be a resource for other concerned residents?
- Conduct a “training” for tenants independent of any individual re: safety awareness, promoting everybody’s well-being. Look to standing or mandatory tenant meetings as a place to provide that.
Data collection for meeting: obtain number of registered sex offenders in Hampden and Hampshire Counties. I will follow-up with Anne (or look in my email file since she provided this number previously) and Madeline will contact Springfield police to obtain Hampden County number.
Measure of success for this meeting: that there is a declared “next step” after providers bring back information to their executive directors, board members, etc., aiming for a September follow-up meeting.
Agreed that the group would meet next on:
Wed., 7/9, 11:00 am, Northampton Senior Center
Wed., 9/10, 11:00 am, location to be determined
Pamela will be on leave for July and August, but Jay Levy generously agreed to facilitate the July meeting.