Housing Strategies for Sex Offenders

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Audio | July 10, 2008

Sex offenders face a variety of obstacles in finding housing. A number of counties, cities, and states have passed laws that restrict where sex offenders can live—typically anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 feet (depending on the jurisdiction) of places where children congregate, including schools, daycares, parks and bus stops. With such limited options, many sex offenders are forced onto the streets, as even homeless shelters can be included in buffer zones. Unfortunately, these restrictions intended to inform and protect the public may actually harm them. The conversation on housing models for sex offenders is still in its early stages, but research on the effects of residence restrictions and balancing the need to protect the public is emerging.

Dr. Jill Levenson, a national expert on residence restrictions and professor at Lynn University discussed the impact of these laws and what they mean for homelessness and public safety.