NEW YORK—State senators Jeffery Klein and Diane Savino urged New York State Senate and Assembly on Sunday to pass legislation that would keep registered sex offenders from moving into public housing.
“Unfortunately, we know that even one sex offender living in public housing is one too many,” Klein said. “No parent or caregiver should ever have to worry that their child is at risk—especially right in their own backyard.”
In 1998, Congress passed the Quality House and Work Responsibility Act, which prohibits any person registered as a lifetime sex offender from being admitted by any public housing authority. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires all public housing authorities to perform criminal history background checks on prospective tenants and deny housing admission to registered sex offenders.
A March 2009 report released by New York City Councilman Eric Gioia found 129 lifetime sex offenders living in the city's public housing units illegally.
In August 2009, the HUD inspectors found 4,784 households with one or more members registered as a serious sex offender. The HUD general inspector said the problem may be that legislation would be required to terminate tenant agreements for those improperly admitted to public housing, but HUD officials claimed public housing officials had the authority to remove registered lifetime sex offenders.
A more recent report released by Klein’s office this year showed 74 registered lifetime sex offenders illegally occupying public housing units in the city, with 12 more found in upstate and western New York. The zip code with the highest percentage of sex offenders in public housing was 11354 in Queens, with 40 percent. The zip code with the highest number of sex offenders in public housing was 11212 in Kings County, with 10.
“The time to act is now—we must make it easier for state housing authorities to identify sex offenders from the start and to boot out those currently taking advantage of this vital public program,” Klein said.
Klein is introducing legislation that would require housing authorities, tenants, and prospective tenants to be provided with a monthly list of all registered sex offenders within the city by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.