Transitional home causing repeated trouble and concern for a Tampa neighborhood

Local residents don't legally need to be notified
Posted at 6:47 PM, Jul 27, 2017

Residents tell ABC Action News they are fed up with the disturbances coming from one house in particular in their otherwise quiet Seminole Heights neighborhood. 

“Probably at least once a week there’s cops over there,” says Laura Lee Garcia-Aker of the home just a few houses down from hers on East New Orleans Avenue in Tampa.

“So out of just like curiosity my roommate and I just looked it up around the time we moved in and there were three sex offenders living right there,” says Garcia-Aker. “We probably would not have chosen this house to live in had we’d been made aware of that prior to moving in.”

The house she’s referring to is a transitional home for former federal and state prison inmates.

“The realtor never made us aware that the house was just like three houses down,” she adds.

Turns out there’s little recourse, and no warning system in place, for people like Garcia-Aker, or the other families that live on her block.

There’s even two homes for sale on the block, and nothing requiring the home owners to warn potential future owners of the presence of the transitional home.

Now some of the people who live on the block feel they’re paying the price for living so close to so many troubled individuals.

The house has seven bedrooms, and is called the Clifford Hill Community Outreach Center.

Many of the people who live there are monitored by GPS, and their whereabouts are known to local law enforcement.

But these protections aren’t much comfort to the people who live right next door.

There’s been 43 calls for service to 1303 E. New Orleans Ave since just the beginning of 2017, for reports of violence, and illegal activity by registered sex offenders.

“They have told me they’ve looked on the computer and that they noticed that some of the scariest, or sketchiest people, sex offenders, that we have are in our facilities. Right next door,” says Chris Myrick of the concern of the people who live on the street. 

Myrick manages the private property, and the people who live there. He says the goal of the program is to help former inmates transition to regular life.

He says the program has a no-tolerance policy when it comes to behavior problems and says residents in the area know to call him, or 911, if any incidents involving the former inmates occur. They have many strict rules, including curfews, and where they can go.

One restriction they don’t have to deal with is rules against getting close to a school, daycare or kids, even if they are registered sex offenders, because they don’t qualify for those restrictions under Florida statute, says Myrick.

If they did, he says, they wouldn’t be allowed in his transitional home. 

While this makes some residents uncomfortable, Myrick believes the alternative is worse.

“These are people who would be walking the streets if they could not be housed at these facilities,” says Myrick.

But Garcia-Aker wishes more was done to warn people like herself in advance.

“It could be an unsafe situation and you would just not know until maybe its too late,” she says.

Several other residents on the block have also expressed serious concerns to ABC Action News.