Megan’s Law list reveals sex offenders who might be living in public housing

Federal rules prohibit registered sex offenders from living in public housing.

But at least 11 sex offenders have registered at addresses at sites in San Francisco, according to publicly available records.

Those convicted sex offenders reported to the state Department of Justice, which maintains California's sex offender registry, that they live at addresses in federally subsidized public housing in San Francisco.

If someone has committed a crime that requires lifetime registration as a sex offender, they are supposed to be denied a subsidy for public housing under federal Department of Housing and Urban Development rules.

After the Housing Authority was presented with a list of names last week by The San Francisco Examiner, an agency spokeswoman said that at least one of the residents “may be” subject to HUD policies barring sex offenders and could be evicted.

One of the addresses was a vacant unit. The nine others “are either not residents or not subject to HUD's policies regarding sex offenders,” Housing Authority spokeswoman Rose Dennis said in a statement.

The ban on registered sex offenders applies to registrants seeking public housing after June 25, 2001. There is no rule barring sex offenders from public housing if they were admitted before that date.

If a public-housing resident commits a sex offense, their subsidy is supposed to be canceled upon annual recertification, under rules written in order to “maximize safety,” according to HUD.

The ban on sex offenders living in public housing extends to members of a lease holder's household.

It is possible that the offenders were admitted prior to the June 25, 2001, deadline and thus would be permitted to stay.

Some residents of public housing can escape the notice of Housing Authority officials by staying with a relative or friend and keeping their name off the lease, even though it is against policy to live in a unit when not listed on the lease.

For instance, the two people who escaped a burning Housing Authority unit at 76 Brookdale Ave. in April — an incident that killed a mother and her son — lived at the unit but were not on the lease, according to court records.

Other sex offenders are known only to law enforcement, said Sgt. Chuck Collins of the Police Department's Sex Offender Unit, and are not on the public list. They would also be barred from living in public housing units.

“Not every [registered sex offender] is on [the] Megan's Law [website],” Collins said Friday of the state database.

Police could not confirm whether Housing Authority background checks would reveal an offender whose name is not on the public list.

The Housing Authority did not provide comment on its background-check protocol.

There could be many more offenders evading the federal ban. The ban on public housing for sex offenders extends to private housing paid for by Section 8 vouchers. A full list of private housing accepting Section 8 vouchers was not immediately available.

There were 12,691 people living in 6,054 units of public housing and 19,110 people living in 8,954 privately owned units subsidized by Section 8 vouchers, a 2013 audit found.

A 2009 audit found that up to 3,094 federally assisted households across the country contained sex offenders in violation of HUD rules, which was a “potential public safety concern,” according to the agency.

If a public-housing resident allows a sex offender to live with them knowingly, they could be subject to eviction and criminal charges.

Public-housing agencies in other states have found sex offenders living on their properties in violation of the law.

For example, more than two dozen public-housing residents in Cleveland have been charged with fraud for allowing sex offenders to live with them in violation of HUD rules.

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