Residents voice concerns over sex offenders at Cranston homeless shelter

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A community is speaking out against the increasing number of sex offenders living at a Cranston homeless shelter that is within walking distance of five schools.

On Monday night, neighbors joined their state representative in a meeting to discuss the issue.

In 2011, there was an agreement between the governor and lawmakers to limit the number to five sex offenders staying at Harrington Hall. At times, Representative Robert Lancia says it’s twelve times that.

Starting at 5 p.m. Harrington Hall opens its doors to those who need a place to sleep.

“That’s a homeless shelter. It’s not a place that is ready and able to deal with sex offenders,” said Representative Lancia.

Regional Crimewatch member Suzanne Arena spoke along with Representative Lanci at Waterman Elementary School to inform parents of what is being done about the growing sex offender population.

Representative Lancia’s bill limits the number of sex offenders at any given state funded facility to no more than 10% of the population. It would give the state six months to come up with the resources and facilities, but homeless advocated won’t believe it until they see it.

“It doesn’t cost anything to impose a 10% cap. It costs something to solve a problem,” said Duff Morton, homeless outreach volunteer.

Representative Lancia hopes his bill can pass this month, which is child abuse prevention month.

Lancia says, “We’ve got to fix this. We have the will and we can do this and we will do it.”