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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Group Homes Threatened by Proposed Ordinance

Ordinance aims to limit three parolees for each home - but the bill could negatively impact current group home residents.

After 24 years in prison, Nannie Wilkerson finally has a comfortable bed to call her own. 

But a new ordinance under consideration by City Council could threaten Nannie's - and other's - residential stability.

The Community Care Facilities Ordinance will allow only three parolees to live in a house in a residential neighborhood. The bill is supported by, among others, councilmember Mitch Englander. He argues that the bill aims to curb cramped homes with violent criminals.

“Do we want homes with 30 violent felons or sexual offenders living in communities anywhere?” said Englander.

Wilkerson - who was released last month on second degree murder charges and cannot leave the county for six months - lives in a home with eight other women on East 91st Street. If the ordinance passes, residents in the home - which is run by A New Way of Life social services agency  - could be required to live elsewhere.

“If they put me out today and I can’t go to San Diego where my family is, then I would be homeless in L.A.," said Wilkerson. 

“If this is working, I don’t think it should be a whole big target on people that it’s working for," she said.

Greg Spiegel of the Inner City Law Center said the proposed ordinance is discriminatory.

 "The original purpose of the ordinance was to remove people who live in sober living homes and remove sober living homes from certain neighborhoods," said Spiegel. 

He said complaints of noise and littering from certain group homes are valid - but the proposed ordinance is problematic.

“The ordinance doesn’t discern between good and bad actors," said Spiegel.

A city council working group chaired by Englander is currently reviewing the proposed ordinance, which returns to the council's agenda at the end of April.

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