Last week HUD issued a directive on the use of criminal records in tenant screening. On the surface, this ruling would prohibit blanket rejections for criminal records, ostensibly including a blanket prohibition against sex offenders.
Renting to registered sex offenders cause anxiety for your neighbors. And I do not disagree with their sentiments. I would not have wanted someone on the registry living next to me when my children were small and I certainly would not want one living next to my grandchildren today.
I expressed my concern that owners would have to begin accepting sex offenders to AASEW General Counsel, Heiner Giese. Heiner brought to my attention that in Milwaukee only 55 properties meet the Milwaukee Sex Offender Residency rule. The rule penalizes the offender, not the property owners.
If your properties are outside of Milwaukee you may be required to accept sex offenders under the HUD directive. However, this HUD rule was implemented to address disparate impact of such screening processes as they impact existing protected classes. It does create a new protected class per se. Most sex offenders are White males which should make this less of an issue under the April 4th, 2016 HUD Fair Housing letter.
Some people are very passionate on these issues as the recent FaceBook discussion regarding screening for criminals shows. There is, of course, many larger issues with the sex offender registry. The two kids experimenting in the back of the Chevy probably should not be branded for life on an offender registry. Remember that 48% of kids have had sex by the time they are 17. The first sex offender in WI was a case similar to this in Palmyra.
Not that I am an advocate for sex offenders, Affordable had a prohibition against sex offenders renting from us for as nearly as long as the registry existed, but the abundance of residency restrictions will ultimately cause politicians or judges will make them a protected class. Then all owners, including government housing, will have to rent to them unrestricted throughout the community.
Miami adopted a similar 2,500-foot restriction in 2006. This resulted in the sex offenders forming a cardboard box camp under the bridges of the Julia Tuttle Causeway, I-195. In 2010, the city of Miami bulldozed the camp. It then cost the city $1000 per month per offender that was relocated to house them in hotels. 256 offenders stopped reporting their addresses in the process.
People smarter than me need to find the answer but trust that it will become a problem for everyone if left unaddressed.