Senate Bill Bars Sex Offenders From Public Housing

May 10, 2010

Streamlines Communication & Coordination Between
Law Enforcement, Public Housing Administrators

The Senate Democratic Majority passed legislation today  requiring public housing authorities to receive monthly updates from law enforcement when Level 2 or 3 sex offenders move into a community, in order to prevent them from residing in taxpayer-subsidized public housing complexes which children and families call home.
Despite this residential ban being in place from a 1998 act by Congress, enforcement is lax and in most instances, housing authority administrators are unaware a sex offender has moved in because of a lack of notification from the proper authorities – a problem remedied by the Senate’s bill (S2490D/Klein).
Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), lead sponsor and Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate said, “Public housing residents will be safer because of the action we took today.  We can improve public safety and actually save money through legislation like this that encourages agencies to work together more efficiently. Though we cannot put a price on a child’s safety, the money wasted subsiding housing for housing for the most serious registered sex offenders nationally is $12 million – money that could be better used helping put a safe roof over the heads of struggling families.”
Majority Conference Leader Senator John Sampson said, “Families who depend on public housing deserve a safe, quality place to live, and this legislation helps ensure they will receive it.  We are taking steps to make certain taxpayer money is not used to provide homes for serious sex offenders who have been judged to threaten public safety.”
Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) said, “Our action today will make certain that all agencies, from law enforcement to housing authority managers, are working together to keep dangerous sexual offenders out of public housing.  The taxpayers who are the true landlords expect it, the families who live in public housing deserve it, and federal law requires it.”
Senator Joseph Addabbo (D-Queens) said, “Dangerous sexual offenders have no place in taxpayer-subsidized housing.  That is the law, and today, we made sure that the law will be enforced. Our families and communities are safer when law enforcement and public agencies share information and do their jobs more efficiently, and that is what today's legislation accomplishes.” 
In 1998, Congress banned subsidized housing for the most serious sex offenders after a convicted sex offender was charged with assaulting and molesting a 9-year-old neighbor living in the same public housing building.  The federal legislation prohibits housing authorities from admitting any household that includes a person subject to the lifetime sex offender registration requirement.
However, a report by the Inspector General of the federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Department, estimated that roughly 2,100-3,000 households currently residing in federally subsidized housing include a serious sex offender. The report notes that noted public housing administrators often fail to ask prospective residents if they are subject to a lifetime registration requirement, and do not check the national sex offender registry prior to recertifying the eligibility of current residents.
The Senate legislation corrects the lack of communication between local law enforcement and public housing authorities, ensuring the safety of communities, adherence to federal law, as well as the protection of public assistance for those who need it most.