Sex offenders pre-approved to live in your neighborhood?

MILWAUKEE (WITI)--  If you've done it recently, you know moving isn't easy.  Donna Waszak has even more challenges.  She lives in Texas, and her search for a new apartment is not for her, but her son.

"Winter is coming. I don`t want him to be out on the streets," Donna Waszak said.

David Waszak already has a home, inside the Wisconsin Correctional System.  David Waszak is serving time for a crime committed in 2007, when the then 19-year-old admitted to giving drugs to and having sex with a 14-year-old girl.

The crime makes David Waszak a registered sex offender.   His mother is hoping he'll have a fresh start upon his release, but is learning finding housing after his crime has become more difficult.

"I`m not saying my son is innocent on this, but every person has a right to have a roof over their head," Donna Waszak said.

David Waszak cannot go back to his hometown of Oak Creek.  The city is among a flurry of communities in Milwaukee County that have tightened laws that severely limit where offenders can live.  Some places -- like Oak Creek have banned sex offenders from returning  completely.

Fearing they were becoming a sex offender "dumping ground," the city of Milwaukee followed suit.

"Why would you expect the city of Milwaukee  to say 'oh fine, give us all of your sex offenders?'" Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.

Barrett signed a new ordinance into law that took effect in September.  The new law keeps sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of places where children congregate.  This includes parks, playgrounds, schools and so on.

Now, there's just a single page of addresses where sex offenders can legally live in the city.

As FOX6 News discovered, there is a problem.  People who are on "the list" have no idea they're on it!

Resident after resident told FOX6 News we were the first to bring "the list" to their attention.

"Shocking, very very shocking," homeowner Kevin Barkow said.

The list was created by the Milwaukee City Clerk's Office.

"The desire in this case was to hold the state of Wisconsin Department of Corrections accountable for dumping sex offenders in the city of Milwaukee," Clerk Jim Owczarski said.

Owczarski explains at first, new restrictions created by the new ordinance were displayed for offenders on a map. However, the map was not very helpful.

"We realized that wouldn`t be particularly meaningful to people, because it is hard to tell the level of granularity we have whether any particular property is in or out," Owczarski said.

Instead, the City Clerk's Office used a computer program to identify the exact locations of places outside the restriction areas.  Owczarski admits his office is not required to determine if these places are available for rent or purchase.

FOX6 News spent hours traveling to addresses on "the list," and did not find one available property.  And there were other problems.  At 60th and Lloyd, four duplexes that were on "the list" were directly across the street from a church with a preschool.

The city says the document will be revised as needed.  In the meantime, residents fear desperate sex offenders needing a roof over their head may soon come knocking.

It's something FOX6 News found out may already be happening.

One resident on "the list" says his neighbor was visited recently by someone who needed a place to stay.

"He said someone was knocking on his door looking for a place, looking for anything to rent.  So that probably corresponds to that," the resident said.

Owczarski says that was not the intention of the Common Council.

"Obviously this is an early part of this process and that is an unintended consequence,"  Owczarski said.

It's a list that is surprising those who are on it, and may not be helping those who need it.

"I'm scrambling to find where he (David Waszak) can go.   He doesn't deserve to live on the streets," Donna Waszak said.

CLICK HERE to view the complete list of pre-approved addresses for sex offenders