Six recovering sex offenders. One unsupervised house. Hundreds of angry neighbors.
Those three combustible ingredients from one Hillsboro neighborhood have now drifted into the Legislature, where two lawmakers are trying to prevent similar mixes of non-predatory sex offenders in one house anywhere in Oregon.
In Multnomah County alone, that could affect 700 sex offenders termed non-predatory (a classification based on everything from the offender's age to any prior convictions).
Dr. Chris Ackerman, who works with recovering offenders at a Southwest Portland clinic, says finding houses for that population is hard enough already.
"Everybody's attitude is 'not in my backyard,'" Ackerman says.
This story began in January, when a Hillsboro landlord rented a newly remodeled home to the group of six non-predatory sex offenders. The local homeowners association complained, community meetings followed, and the six moved out in mid-February to separate placements.
"It probably wasn't the best location for offenders going through recovery," says Lt. Chris Skinner, a Hillsboro police spokesman. "It was a house in a cul-de-sac populated with young families."
But then state representatives from Hillsboro started getting constituent demands to ensure sex offenders never lived together unsupervised again. Republican Derrick Kitts and Democrat Chuck Riley co-sponsored House Bill 3419, which is on track to clear the House soon.
The bill aims to block sex offenders, predatory and non-predatory, from occupying the same dwelling. Treatment centers and halfway houses where offenders are monitored would still be allowed.
"This is a public-safety issue," Riley says.