James says that one of his residents showed him a map like that for his city. "The only areas the rings didn't encompass," he says, "were really rich areas he couldn't afford, really poor areas where he was afraid he might die, and the ocean." It's actually worse in Milwaukee, a city of half a million people in which the entire map is blacked out save for 55 addresses. In Denver, a judge struck down these laws when it turned out they left effectively no livable space at all.
Offenders look to the few areas they're allowed to choose, and when landlords realize sex offenders are eyeing them, they generally respond by releasing the hounds. It's not legal to discriminate that way, but it's easy to vet potential tenants by looking at your state registry and then rejecting anyone whose name is there. "They can claim 'poor credit,'" says James, "'not good references,' 'we already rented it,' or another excuse." Out of options, maybe they could flee the urban center altogether for some distant county (states have been accused of making rural areas a dumping ground for sex offenders), but unless there's a job waiting for them elsewhere, they aren't leaving.
So what then? Do they simply go homeless? Yeah, that happens, and on a large scale. And as much as some people might relish the thought of people like this having no roof over their heads, the whole point of the registry is to keep tabs on them, so thousands of transient roaming sex offenders should be the absolute last thing anyone wants. There's got to be some other solution. That's where people like James come in.