A battle is brewing in Kent, as the city tries to crack down on group homes that house sex offenders. A few months ago, group home operators say they received notice that they needed to follow city code or close their doors.
There are strict regulations that limit the number of sex offenders who can live in one house and how close that home can be to schools and child care centers. The measures are meant to protect people, but group home operators say it leaves very few places where these offenders can live.
Now operators, like Eddie Weber, are trying to figure out what to do with the people they house. “It's very difficult for these people to find housing especially level 2 and 3 sex offenders,” Weber said.
At one group home, residents said they weren’t sure where they would go. One man, who asked us not to identify him, said the Federal Way home he was living at closed a few months ago and he came to Kent for stability.
“Society’s safety comes first,” he said. “But we're free I paid my debt to society what more can I do?” he added.
Weber says his homes are designed to focus on sober living and recovery, but he realizes the city doesn't see it that way. He believes sending these people out on the streets will create a new set of problems.
“If they lose the stability of their housing they're liable to go back to old behaviors, which makes them more dangerous,” Weber said.
The city originally gave the operators until July 31 to close down, a few operators asked for more time. Weber has asked the city to allow those who have substance abuse problems to stay in the group homes; he said he has not received a reply.