Some South Bend residents are working on a plan to push sex offenders out of a group home on Lincolnway East.
“Noel” is one of a dozen registered sex offenders living at that house in the 700 block. He wouldn't go on camera, but he wants to be heard. “It bothers me that these people want us to move out,” Noel says. “We have to move somewhere anyway. So what difference does it make?”
It makes a big difference to Noel's neighbors. Dozens of them met at the library downtown to discuss the halfway house for parolees and probationers. “We realize there is merit to the program,” admits Jennifer Rozmarynowski, a concerned resident. “We would have preferred it not be in our neighborhood.”
When asked “If not in yours, than whose?”
Rozmarynowski replied, “That's the good question. We don't know. Somewhere not within 1000 feet of a park, school or daycare.”
St. Joseph County Community Corrections chose the house for sex offenders.
The group residence is a new approach at rehabilitation. It offers counseling, drug testing and some supervision.
City building commissioner, Don Fozo, told neighbors that the group residence requires special zoning and that the home owner needs to file with the Board of Zoning Appeals by December 27th. “The surrounding area, the land use and the operation itself, I think all of that will be taken into consideration by the board,” Fozo explains.
Community Corrections tells us they are aware of the deadline and they will be sending a letter to the Building Department.
Meantime, families with children and single women living nearby say they're afraid.
So are the men who live in this house, afraid they'll be thrown out of this neighborhood and who knows how many others. “They’re going to be kids anywhere you go,” Noel says. “Besides, we already did our time.”