Letters to the Editor

Homeless: Sex offender issue is challenging

Re: “Tacoma City Council wrestles with homeless shelter background checks,” (TNT, 4/1).

This article raises an interesting public policy question. As a retired city manager and a current board member of Community Supported Shelters of Eugene, Oregon, I can understand the challenges of balancing competing public interests.

From a public health, safety and welfare standpoint, the key question is whether the public interest is better served if sex offenders are in controlled shelter environments, as opposed to being out on public streets, parks and trails.

One approach to consider is to remove the restriction from the city ordinance, and allow the religious, nonprofit or government operators to adopt their own respective operating policies.

The city could provide incentives in the forms of available city land for shelters or financial subsidies to the operators that do allow sex offenders.

(Mukerjee formerly worked as an administrator for the cities of Fife and Milton.)