How helping the homeless could get you in trouble in Missouri

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The City of Kansas City is warning those who want to help the homeless to be careful -- and mindful of Missouri laws.

Kansas City police recently discovered five registered sex offenders were living in a wooded area within 500 feet of a park and 1,000 feet of two elementary schools. In Missouri, sex offenders are not allowed in these areas for the protection of children. Four of the five sex offenders have previous convictions for child molestation, an offense that unfortunately has a 67 percent recidivism rate.

Unsettling news for parents.

"My main thing is their safety and that's a big concern ... and it's kind of scary just knowing that right, a couple feet away, there's somebody here that's not supposed to be close to a school building," Vanessa Ojeda, mother, said.

Arrest warrants have been issued for the convicted sex offenders living in the woods. The impacted schools have been notified as well.

As part of the investigation it was determined food services were being delivered to the registered sex offenders within that restricted area near the park and schools. This places the offender at risk of violating state law as well as greatly increasing chances the offender will commit another offense.

Most shelters do not accept registered sex offenders, and that’s why many homeless camps often have several offenders living there. By Missouri law, if someone provides meals to a registered sex offender within the restricted zone, they could be violating state law, by knowingly aiding the individual.

Charitable organizations are reminded to avoid delivering food or other services to the homeless population within 500 feet of a park or 1,000 feet of any school.

Individuals and groups wishing to help the homeless population are encouraged to volunteer with established agencies that are able to provide a full range of services. This is a partial listing:

Homeless Services Coalition

Sheffield Place

City Union Mission

Restart Youth Homeless Shelter

Kansas City Rescue Mission

Forest Avenue Church

Grand Avenue Temple

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