PORTLAND -- A sex offender treatment clinic under fire for opening just blocks from a Boys and Girls Club and a school in Southeast Portland's Sellwood neighborhood is now trying to move.
The business has no signage and the windows are tinted dark. Neighbors said they had no forewarning that this type of facility would be opening there.
"That's kind of like having lambs next to a pack of hungry wolves. We don't feel very comfortable with it," explained Joe Holliman with the Sellwood Montessori School, located near the sex offender center.
Concerned residents held a meeting Monday night and offered to help the business move to a different location which is further from kids. Whole Systems Counseling treats nearly 140 sex offenders but none of the clients have limitations regarding being around schools, according to the company's director Johneen Manno.
Manno said after the meeting that she would be amenable to moving the clinic, but had just begun her five-year lease.
"The communities jumped to 'that everyone is a child molester or pedophile and they jump out of bushes.' That is just not the case, we don't have any client who does that," she said.
Then on Tuesday morning, a sign in the window said that the clinic will move as soon as it finds a new location. In the meantime, the landlord has reportedly agreed to change the lease to a month-to-month agreement.
Neighbors pushed for the move
State records show that in December, the counseling center moved from Oregon City to Southeast Portland. Manno said she reached out to the neighborhood association and local businesses.
Since that time, and especially last weekend, word spread among many neighbors via social media about exactly what the building was being used for, prompting shock.
One person told KGW that residents can't change the siding on a garage without formally notifying neighbors, yet a sex offender clinic doesn't have to announce its plans. He was upset by this.