Folks, in light of all the foreclosures -nationally- Rep. Waters (D-CA-35) has begun a program called "Stabilizing Neighborhoods Hurt by Foreclosure," and she has introduced a few bills to cover her program.
One of her bills affects "SPECIFIC" former sex offenders: HR-5814 introduced 7-22-2010 and co-sponsored by Rep. Frank (D-MA-4) and Rep. Velazquez (D-NY-12), yes three Democrats again.
Stated Intent of Bill is: To transform neighborhoods of extreme poverty by revitalizing distressed housing, to reform public housing demolition and disposition rules to require one for one replacement and tenant protections, to provide public housing agencies with additional resources and flexibility to preserve public housing units, and to create a pilot program to train public housing residents to provide home-based health services.The essence of this bill is GOOD -to revitalize neighborhoods- that have been seriously affected by the economy recently, and the apparent intent is to demolish and rebuild housing in these areas, and a pilot training program to train residents in home-based health services (that is a key point to remember).
Now, remember, I am not the Guru of Knowledge on "Distressed Neighborhoods" and don't mind if someone corrects me, but I am positive I understand when a bill affects persons with a history of a sex offense.
The way this revitalization is to occur is, "One-for-One Replacement of Public or Assisted Housing Units" Sec 109 of this bill. The funding from this bill will do both, replace public housing units AND other distressed assisted housing units.
Now we already know, in existing HUD Public Housing Units (Sec 8), that there is a exclusion of any registered sex offender who must register for a LifeTime (right now that cannot be changed), however, this bill is also talking about non section 8 buildings, "assisted housing units," many of which have residents who are elderly and/or disabled.
We also know (speculating, based on news reports) that such housing units and neighborhoods are places where former sex offenders are forced to live, being forced out of better neighborhoods. And, it is likely some of these folks have families.
This is where the denial to former sex offenders occurs in this bill. See:
Sec.109(a)(2)(A)(B) & (3):
(2) OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Admission to, administration of, and eviction from replacement housing units that replaced public housing units, but that are not public housing dwelling units, shall be subject to the following provisions to the same extent as public housing dwelling units:
(A) Section 578 of the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998 (42 U.S.C. 13663; relating to ineligibility of dangerous sex offenders).
(B) Section 16(f) of the United States Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C. 1437n(f); relating to ineligibility of certain drug offenders).
(3) RETENTION OF RIGHTS- Tenants occupying a replacement housing unit shall have all rights provided to tenants of the housing from which the tenants were relocated.
So, a HUD law is being applied to non HUD property because it was built with federal HUD funds. Yet, the bill doesn't say "HUD intends to manage the building, after construction." it appears HUD goes its way and the building is managed by whoever (A point missing from the bill).
But, the former sex offender -and his/her family, if any- is evicted from their "assisted housing unit" and left to flounder homeless in the streets. No assistance or money to find new suitable housing. Eminent domain issues scream at me here.
Later in the bill we also find this:
SEC. 110. OTHER PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS.
(a) Fair Housing- The demolition or disposition, relocation, replacement, and reoccupancy of housing units in connection with a grant under this title shall be carried out in a manner that affirmatively furthers fair housing, as required by section 808 of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3608(e)). Grantees shall adopt affirmative marketing procedures, and require affirmative marketing activities of project owners and managers. Such special outreach efforts shall be targeted to those who are least likely to apply for the housing, to ensure that all persons regardless of their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status are aware of the housing opportunities in each project funded with a grant under this title.
Fair Housing? Except dangerous sex offenders! Dangerous -as defined by federal law- "a person doing nothing but abiding by law and moving on with their lives" but who was convicted of a sex offense 10-20-30-50 years ago, and that offense may have been as simple as "peeing in the park" or a Romeo & Juliet type offense. ie., today that person is being forced to register -for a lifetime- by laws non existent at the time of their crime or laws that have been changed because of a more vindictive stance of politicians wanting to stay in office.
Let us not forget "disability" was highlighted because, if, this is "Assisted Housing" there is a reason why those folks need assistance, maybe they are getting on on their years, or maybe they are disabled in some way. Remember, the bill includes "a pilot training program to train residents in home-based health services," there is a reason for that, some are unable to take care of themselves and need assistance.
As to the former sex offenders who are disabled -and now being evicted- it seems clear they have the American's with Disabilities Act where they could file a complaint under. Also, a 1983 action sounds like a great way to go, but as I always say, I am not a lawyer, please see one to get an professional opinion which can stand in court.
Everyone needs to be contacting their Representatives and Senators asking them to resolve this before it becomes law and these folks (likely aged and/or disabled) are evicted, becoming homeless.
For now, have a great day & a better tomorrow, and contact Washington DC!
PS: Just so folks know, what is happening here IS NOT the same as what occurred in bills HR-5618 or HR-5072 or HR-5297, here we are dealing with HUD laws. Further, here it is also a different group of former offenders that are being affected, however, this group MAY include some convicted of offenses against a minor, the issues in HR-5618 and HR-5072 and HR-5297.
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