Linda Wolfe-Dawidjan of Spokane, Wa., runs an apartment building for ex-convicts. The New York Times reports that for seven years she has owned New Washington Apartments, a run-down three-story building near downtown. The apartments house 39 sex offenders and 15 other tenants with criminal backgrounds or histories of drug or alcohol abuse. For their $240 a month the tenants get a room, a bed and a dresser, and they share the bathrooms and kitchens.
The building started as a place for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, but Wolfe-Dawidjan discovered that sex offenders tend to pay the rent on time, were quiet and usually stayed for at least a year, partly because it is so hard for them to find another place to live. She began working with the Department of Corrections and discovered that with the presence of corrections officers, she rarely has crime problems. The building is always full, and the waiting list for a room has grown longer. As many as 800 sex offenders are released from Washington prisons every year.
Wolfe-Dawidjan warns her tenants that she watches they closely, and if she does not, someone else does. “To me, this is the best shot to keep the community safe,” she said. “I have grandchildren, and sometimes what my tenants have done is disturbing, very disturbing to me, it bothers me.”