Oklahoma City sex offender attorneys know that those convicted of sex crimes face continued difficulties after the completion of their prison sentences. Among the most difficult requirements with which convicted sex offenders must comply are housing restrictions which make an estimated eighty percent of the city off limits to those released from prison after conviction of a sex offense. One group that has attempted to remedy the housing situation for approximately two hundred registered sex offenders has faced continued trouble with legally providing homes for these men. Hand Up Ministries, located at 2130 SE 59, provided trailers for men convicted of sex offenses, and posted a notice on the fenced community stating that no women or children are allowed on the premises. Initially, Hand Up Ministries came under scrutiny for allowing two offenders to share a trailer, which authorities said violated a state law that disallowed registered sex offenders from living together. The ministry's founder, Reverend David Nichols asserted that the trailer park was similar to a residential facility or apartment complex in allowing two or more men to share the same trailer on the premises. However, a 2011 law, which Nichols claims directly targeted his facility, clarified the existing statute, and ruled that Hand Up Ministries was violating the statute excluding sex offenders from living in the same home. When the law went into effect July 1, Hand Up Ministries was forced to find a solution or to evict some thirty to forty sex offenders. Rev. Nichols's solution was to move these men into tents on the premises. However, on July 17, the Oklahoma City Development Services Department issued notice of zoning violation, saying that current zoning does not allow tents on the premises. Hand Up Ministries was given thirty days to comply with zoning. According to Rev. Nichols, “They've almost accomplished what they wanted to do, and that's shut me down." Supporters of the ministry say that the eviction of these sex offenders will result in homelessness, joblessness, and failure to comply with sex offender registration requirements, with one supporter claiming, "You can't register what you don't have." Though opponents of the ministry dislike the proximity of so many sex offenders living nearby, supporters note that law enforcement will no longer be able to monitor unregistered, homeless offenders. However, while these men are living at Hand Up Ministries, they are both supervised and registered. Though the ministry has some options for appealing the law, Nichols says the organization no longer has the funds to continue to fight. The appeal has been dropped, though Oklahoma City spokeswoman Kristy Yager says the organization does have options including fighting the court order or applying for a zoning variance. However, if Hand Up Ministries does not comply with current zoning regulations within thirty days of the notice's issuance, they are subject to fines and citations.
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