KENT — The clock is ticking for dozens of sex offenders to find new homes.
The Department of Corrections says it’s aware of the issue in Kent but says it is the responsibility of the sex offenders to find housing. With less than 24 hours to go, more than 50 of the released sex offenders have nowhere to go but the streets.
“If you are a landlord, and with a tenant you only have to give them 20 days (notice), so we have already been very gracious,” Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke said Tuesday.
Cooke says the city gave the group homes 90 days to move sex offenders out because too many of them were living at the same address.
“The houses that we have identified do not meet our law; they are too close to schools, churches and too close to playgrounds,” said Cooke.
Eddie Weber manages six of the 10 homes involved.
“They have known sex offenders have been here; they all have to register. That is no surprise,” said Weber.
Weber says he’s operated his business as clean and sober homes but the city has now re-classified them as group homes so it can legally kick his tenants out.
“The facility they are operating came in under the disguise of being clean and sober homes. They’ve turned into houses for sex offenders,” said Cooke.
Residents are split on whether the men should stay where they are.
“I didn’t realize it was so close to our neighborhood,” said Ashlee Lopez.
“They have to have a place, and taking that place away will put a lot of people in danger,” said Brenda Johnson.
The DOC is currently court-ordered to watch most of the sex offenders in Weber’s program. The department admits it’s definitely harder to keep track of people who don’t have a fixed address.
“Obviously it makes supervising offenders much more difficult if they are homeless or transient,” said DOC spokesman Chad Lewis.
DOC is mandated to supervise 34 of the more than 50 sex offenders. It says it will be keeping a close eye on those people.
Overall, DOC does not supervise most of the sex offenders in the state, although they are required to register their address with local law enforcement.