With the March announcement that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) will no longer enforce the blanket residency restrictions for sex offenders as outlined in Proposition 83 (Jessica’s Law), property managers are finding themselves in a gray area concerning whether or not they may deny rental applicants based on their status and if the property is located within 2,000 feet of a park, school or where children congregate.

As property managers throughout California stand by for further guidance regarding whether or not they can consider the sex offender status as a basis in the rental decision, it should be noted that the CDCR’s decision does not impact federal low income housing in California – this includes Section 8 and housing vouchers. At this time, the matter is contained to the state of California.

While the residency ban reversal originates in San Diego County, non-enforcement of the sex offender residency ban is now throughout all 58 California’s counties. Although no formal guidance has been released yet, CIC will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds and inform you of developments to remain compliant.

The CDCR’s determination to no longer enforce the residency ban was announced on the heels of the California Supreme Court’s Mar. 2nd unanimous ruling that Jessica’s Law was unconstitutional as it resulted in an uptick of homelessness with sex offenders ineligible for 97 percent of available housing in San Diego County.

Justice Marvin Baxter wrote an opinion for the California Supreme Court and stated, “The residency restrictions place burdens on registered sex offender parolees that are disruptive in a way that hinder their treatment, jeopardizes their health and undercuts their ability to find and maintain employment, significantly undermining any effort at rehabilitation.”

According to a statement issued from CDCR spokesman Luis Patino, California has approximately 6,000 registered sex offenders on parole and of that number, an estimated 1,400 are considered transient with no housing.

Jessica’s Law aimed to safeguard neighborhoods by increasing restrictions and enacting tougher punishments for registered sex offenders. Continuing in her support for the residency ban, State Senator and co-author of Jessica’s Law, Sharon Runner (R-Lancaster) recently wrote an open letter to CDCR Secretary Jeffrey Beard, requesting the immediate release of the opinion from the Attorney General in the decision to loosen the residency restrictions throughout California.

In addition to the Resident Screening Blog, Runner’s office will be an additional valuable resource to provide property managers with timely updates on how multifamily and single family rental properties should utilize sex offender records in future rental decisions. Visit http://district21.cssrc.us/ to learn more or share your support for Jessica’s Law with Senator Runner.

By: Laura Mowry

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