By Shelby Stewart
Brandon Twp.-An area group home that drew the attention of neighbors and residents has prompted township officials to take a harder look at just who is in these homes.
The proposed process was sparked by the sale last fall of a home at 301 Sleepy Hollow near Granger Road. Following the sale of the residence an adult foster care facility moved into the 2,800 square foot home in a quiet neighborhood. However, neighbors alerted officials that two convicted sex offenders on parole moved into the home.
As a result on May 7, several hundred residents jammed the township board of trustees meeting expressing concerns about the residents. Then on May 9 the two sex offenders were removed from the property by the Michigan Department of Corrections.
Senator Dave Robertson, Representative John Reilly, and attorneys Cooney and DeWitt along with township officials prompted spearheaded the efforts.
At 11:30 a.m., May 10, Brandon township deputies responded to the home to verify the names of the occupants, and verify the residents were sex offenders. The deputies were notified via a phone conversation the two residents were moved out. The pair were moved to another home in an undisclosed area of Genesee County. The parole agent for the pair also informed deputies that there are no parolee’s living in that home. The home owners reported they do not specialize in housing people on parole. They stated their company houses individuals with physical and mental disabilities, and that some of them may have a criminal past. They also advised that they are putting up privacy barriers in the back yard for the neighbors privacy as well as their clients. Currently they have two clients living in that home.
Since the licensing for the group home is handled at the state level, Brandon Township Supervisor Kathy Thurman has since the incident filed a complaint with LARA about the home.
“It appears LARA and the Department of Corrections don’t communicate with each other when it comes to placing parolees,” said Thurman. “To be proactive in detecting when criminals are placed in our group homes we plan to cross referenced parolee notifications received through the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office with a current list of group homes in our Township. I would also like to plan a public meeting so everyone can gain a better understanding of group home management, how residents are placed in group homes and how parolees are reintroduced into communities.”
Chris Gautz is a public information officer for the Michigan Department of Corrections.
“In this case, we were aware that they were going there only because the parole agents visit their residence to make sure it is a safe place for them to be,” said Gautz. “The parole agents were aware, but the set up for it wasn’t something that they arranged.”
Gautz says that the health care provider, who supplies mental health care for the two men, would have placed them in the group home. The facility was meant to house adults with mental or physical disabilities who could not live alone.
“We’re thankful when homes like this open up and provide care 24/7,” said Gautz. “Ninety-percent of our prisoners are going back to the communities they came from and don’t have anywhere to live. Most of the time they are going back to live with family, but sometimes they look at halfway houses or adult foster care homes for those who need special care.”
The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs or LARA licenses Adult Foster Care facilities.
“LARA ensures that the facility is providing personal care, supervision and protection to residents,” Pardeep Toor, public information officer for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. “LARA’s jurisdiction is the facility and the accompanying care being provided to residents. However, LARA does not oversee resident placements at an AFC facility or determine zoning eligibility for an AFC or an AFC serving specific individuals.”