Minneapolis is looking into how changes in state law or city ordinances could help solve the problem of high numbers of registered sex offenders ending up in just a few of the city's neighborhoods.
After receiving a new report about where sex offenders live in Minneapolis, a City Council committee has directed city officials to research the issue and come back with potential solutions by November. The report, compiled with the help of University of Minnesota researchers, found that sex offenders are primarily concentrated within five Minneapolis zip codes, all of them on the north side of the city or in and around Phillips neighborhood on the south side.
Researchers found that sex offenders tend to end up in the same neighborhoods because they have a hard time finding affordable housing — or amenable landlords — elsewhere and want to be close to jobs and transportation. But those clusters of offenders are often linked to falling home values, with prices falling by between 2.3 percent and 12 percent.
Council members said they know the issue is an important topic, especially for the three or four wards that cover those neighborhoods.
"For me, it's not anything we don't know," said Council Member Blong Yang, who represents part of north Minneapolis, "but it's a matter of figuring out a solution so it can alleviate the harm and distress that comes with the concentration of level-three sex offenders."
Level-three offenders are those considered to pose the highest risk to the public.
But officials said they're well aware that there are no easy solutions — and they don't have any specific suggestions to begin the process.
Sex offenders are required by law to report where they live, which makes it easy to map where they are clustering. City officials around the country are wrestling with the problem of high concentrations of sex offenders in certain neighborhoods. In the Miami area, for instance, many sex offenders have been unable to find housing and are living in camps under bridges. Even Oshkosh, Wis., has been struggling with the problem, as newly released sex offenders are converging in a neighborhood with low-income rental housing.
Council Member Linea Palmisano said she appreciated that the city has been thoughtful in its approach, including taking the time to do the new study.
"I also think it's clear here we don't have any preconceived thoughts about what a potential solution is here," she said. "It's a pretty complex situation."