Category Archives: Housing Sex Offenders

Work Group to House People with Sex Offense Histories – Minutes 12/19/14

Work Group To House People with Sex Offense Histories
December 19, 2014

In attendance: Elizabeth Beinz, ServiceNet, Carl Cignoni, Hampshire County Corrections/DOC Re-entry, Laurie Guidry, MATSA, Ellis Harris, ServiceNet, Richard Hendrick, social worker, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Pamela Schwartz, Network

We summarized our series of meetings with housing providers on the issue of housing people with sex offense histories and agreed that this engagement was a major step forward. While the Valley CDC’s board is meeting on the issue and HAP is in further discussion (Pamela will follow-up on both), the take-away message from all providers is that state policy needs to move on the issue in order for substantial movement to happen at the provider level. Tom Kegelman of Home City Housing focused in particular on the language of “dangerousness” pertaining to this population and how that language needs to be changed for housing providers to take the risk to house them. We looked further at the language and recognize there is some confusion around the use of the word in the SORB “welcome message” and leveling. However, we all agreed that precise wording aside, we need to shift public policy towards a “best practice” response to this issue and the population.

Towards that end, Laurie shared with us the work of the Reducing Sex Offender Recidivism Commission that was created last year (and began meeting this past September). Laurie was appointed to the Commission, along with SORB members, the DA, treatment centers, victim advocacy groups and others (great representation). Right now it is meeting almost monthly and hearing presentations from different constituencies to get informed. It is a promising vehicle for putting forward changes to the leveling system as well as language reform (e.g., “dangerous persons”).

We agreed that we should look first to attaching our work to the Commission’s efforts, e.g., attending public hearings (there is some discussion about holding a few across the state) and bringing to the Commission’s attention the housing crisis facing people with sex offense histories.

We also agreed that it is time to incorporate this issue and our agenda in our legislative meetings this winter/spring.

We agreed that our next step is to craft our mission statement to the Commission, laying out first who we are (the broad representation across the region) and our goals. Pamela and Laurie will work on this statement. Pamela will bring that statement to the Network Leadership Council for their review and hopeful approval, which will then provide a basis for our integration of this issue during our legislative meetings as well.

Laurie and I will draft this statement and distribute it to the work group for feedback in early January, in advance of the Leadership Council meeting on 1/21 and the Human Services Forum Legislative Breakfast on 1/23.

We agreed that we will determine our next meeting date after these two events happen and Laurie has learned more about the Commission’s meeting schedule. Pamela will communicate by the end of January to determine a February meeting date.

Work Group to House People with Sex Offense Histories – 11/19/14

Work Group to House People with Sex Offense Histories
November 19, 2014

In attendance: Patricia Bud, Hampden County Corrections, Joe Critelli, Hampden County Corrections, Richard Hendrick, social worker, Madeline Johnson, Hampden County Correction, Angel Recchia, Franklin Elder Services, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Review of 11/12/14 meeting with housing providers: HAP, Home City Housing, SMOC and Valley CDC answered our invitation to discuss housing policy for sex offenders. Executive or high level directors attended from each organization. From the work group the following members attended: Joe Critelli, Hampden County House of Corrections, Beatriz Fuentes, Hampden County Corrections intern, Ellie Harris, ServiceNet, Richard Hendrick, social worker, Madeline Johnson, Hampden County House of Corrections, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Sgt. Anne McMahon, Northampton Police Department, Jay Sacchetti, ServiceNet, Pamela Schwartz, Network. Laurie Guidry was ill and could not attend. Our special guest Fred Smith, former program director of St. Francis House in Boston, made a special trip to Western Mass. to share his extensive experience in successfully housing people with sex offense histories. He was truly inspirational.

We discussed how this gathering, separate and apart from immediate outcomes, was a very significant step forward in engaging the broader housing community on this issue. We are grateful for their responsiveness. As a practical matter, most providers expressed the need for legislative change before they would feel comfortable housing people with sex offense histories. We offered specific, narrow criteria for consideration on a case-by-case basis. Some providers are taking it up with their board of directors, others are talking more internally and will let us know their thoughts after doing so. In general, the providers expressed concern about the already uphill battle they frequently face to locate affordable housing in communities.

Pamela will continue to follow-up with each provider separately to ascertain their positions and possible next steps.

We agreed at this meeting to explore in-depth (with Laurie’s guidance) possible legislative advocacy strategies and once we arrived at our strategy, we would invite the housing providers to join our efforts.

We also discussed pursuing the parallel strategy of engaging once again with faith leaders (we have contacts from our workshop of a couple years ago) to explore in more depth their partnership . Specifically, whether they would be willing to be part of their congregation’s education efforts on this issue and conduct outreach to congregational members who are property owners. The goal: expand housing options for sex offenders. We agreed that as part of this outreach, it would be very effective to bring the person who is seeking housing, to make that individual “real” and go past the label of sex offender.

We agreed we would explore both of these strategies – legislative advocacy and faith outreach – at our next meeting and we would plan that next meeting around Laurie Guidry’s availability. We will look at the week of 12/15. Pamela will survey Laurie for the date of Wed,. 12/17 at 11 am in Northampton but will pursue others if that does not work for her. Please stay tuned on the next meeting date!

Work Group to House People with Sex Offense Histories Meeting Minutes – 9/29/14

Work Group to House People with Sex Offense Histories Meeting Minutes
September 29, 2014

In attendance: Patricia Budd, Ludlow Jail, Bill Cawthra, Eliot CHS – Homeless Services, Carl Cignoni, Hampshire County House of Corrections/Dept of Corrections re-entry program, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Joe Critelli, Hampden County Sheriff’s Office, David Lepore, ServiceNet, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Jay Levy, Elliot CHs – Homeless Services, Emily Notoarfrancesco, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Angel Recchia, Franklin County Elder Protective Services,

November 12 meeting with Housing Providers
We reviewed our last meeting with housing providers in September – Valley CDC, HAPHousing, SMOC, Home City Housing – and the quality discussion that took place regarding the challenges/concerns housing providers face in housing sex offenders. All present agreed to meet again with additional agency “decision-makers” present. That meeting will take place on November 12, and we already have commitments from the CFO/COO of HAPHousing, Executive Director of Home City Housing, Board president and property managers of Valley CDC and the housing and shelter directors of SMOC. We agreed that our goal is to provide education and data on the issue (Laurie Guidry will lead the training), share successful experiences in housing this population (Rosa Blair of Springfield and Fred Smith of Boston will be invited), and to allow ample time for discussion. We agreed that tackling this issue in regional collaboration is the best chance for progress.

We agreed we need to brainstorm all types of assistance we can offer housing providers if/when they decide to engage with this population. We already have established very narrow criteria (on probation/parole, with case management, in treatment, etc.) but what else can we do? We need to bring that question and offer to the group.

We agreed work group representatives would include: Hampden and Hampshire County Sheriff’s Offfices, Jay Levy or Richard Hendrick (social worker perspective), Sgt. McMahon of Northampton and hopefully police rep from Springfield, and ServiceNet as experienced housing provider.

Springfield Republican newspaper article on housing sex offenders
We discussed the recent article in the Springfield Republican featuring the high number of sex offenders in one building (this is the property that Rosa Blair manages). We all agreed that the headline was inflammatory and harmful to our goals, in addition to the details surrounding some of the tenants’ criminal histories. But we also agreed that if you read the whole article and actually took in the facts, the reader could register that there are NO PROBLEMS with these tenants and there have been no incidents at all! We need to do what we can to increase that focus.

We agreed it would be interesting to explore an op-ed co-signed by region’s sheriff’s departments, offering perspective and education on what it would mean to house this population. Carl Cignoni agreed to draft some initial ideas.

Franklin County Sheriff’s office – new additions to our work group! – reported that they are struggling with housing options in their sub-region. We are pleased to have them join us.

We agreed to meet next following the next regional housing provider meeting .

Next meeting date: Wed., 11/19, 11 am – 12:15 pm, Northampton Senior Center


Work Group to House Sex Offenders Meeting Minutes – 6/4

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:

Pamela, facilitator
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.