By Keli Moore
Close to two weeks after [name withheld], a sexually violent predator, was released from prison as a transient into Santa Barbara County, numerous questions have surfaced surrounding safety issues at homeless services.
There are screening processes to stay at overnight shelters in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, but anyone can go to Prado Day Center in San Luis Obispo to get a hot meal.
"If you apply for a place to live you have to tell them that you're a registered sex offender. It makes it really difficult," said a local man who wants to remain anonymous. He has been out of prison for almost two years and since then, the streets of San Luis Obispo have been his home.
"We can get help through the county health as far as just getting some medical help and stuff like that, but as far as food, shelter, clothing, you have to pretty much find it on your own," he said.
What he doesn't realize is there are some options.
"During the lunch time at Prado for the People's Kitchen, they are allowed to just get in the lunch line, eat their plate of food, and leave the facility with no questions asked," said Dee Torres, who is the homeless services coordinator for CAPSLO.
According to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office, there are 470 registered sex offenders in the county and 52 of them are transients. This raises concern for families with kids who use local homeless services.
"There's a six to eight page intake form that we complete with each individual and some other basic questions that we ask right when they come through the door," said Torres.
But the screening process is not fool proof.
"There have been a few cases where we have found out after the fact that somebody wasn't registered on the database and they didn't disclose," said Torres.
Although there are screening processes in place, a kid could still be exposed to a sex offender.
Transients who are registered sex offenders are required by law to check in with the closest law enforcement agency every 30 days, and if they are still on parole, they are required to wear a GPS device.