By Sadef Ali Kully
A new investigative report revealed that four known sex offenders are currently staying in homeless family shelters in Queens, and almost a dozen sex offenders are housed in family shelters across the city.
U.S. State Sens. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) and Leroy Comrie (D-Hollis) held a press conference outside of the Lincoln Atlantic Motel, a family shelter in Jamaica off the Van Wyck Expressway, to announce that a sex offender surrounded by at-risk families currently lived in the shelter. Lincoln Atlantic Motel is one of the 21 homeless shelters in Queens and a total of 150 homeless shelters within the city.
The first investigative report was released in 2007 by Klein. Since then 35 sex offenders have assaulted women and children, are living in homeless family shelters within the five boroughs, according to the new 2015 report “Uncovering Sex Offenders In Family Homeless Shelters.” Both reports were prepared by Klein and Assemblyman Matthew Titione (D-Staten Island.).
According to the report, there are sex offenders currently living at the following family shelters in Queens: Lincoln Atlantic on 90-35 Van Wyck Expressway, Belt Park Family Center on 153-90 Rockaway Boulevard and Park Family Residence on 154-00 Rockaway Boulevard.
A month ago, Klein discovered that James Bryant, a level-two sex offender who was removed from a Bronx shelter, had been relocated to a family shelter in Astoria by the city’s Department of Homeless Services. Last week, Bryant was forced out of the Westway shelter in East Elmhurst after community members discovered a Level 2 sex offender was living there and protested. Bryant had been convicted of sexually assaulting a 7-year-old child in 2003 and spent 10 years in prison.
“The city’s most vulnerable families shouldn’t have to worry that their next door neighbor is a sex predator,” Klein said. “These known sex offenders who have been convicted of preying on children – some as young as 5 and 7-years-old – must be housed elsewhere to protect these families who are trying to get back on their feet. If the city’s Department of Homeless Services refuses to protect these youngsters, we will do so through state.”
Last week, the Senate unanimously passed Klein’s proposed legislation that prohibits Level 2 and 3 sex offenders from being housed in shelters with women and children. The bill would amend the current social services law, which allows sex offenders to live in any shelter because city and state officials, such as the city’s Department of Homeless Services, are not allowed to divulge information on any residents to shelters.
The placement of residents at shelters are mostly based on referrals from DHS, according to the Department of Homeless Services website.
“Clearly these miscreants who have harmed children should never be allowed into family shelters. The city must protect our most vulnerable by ensuring shelters are safe and not create more horrifying and stressful situations when families are trying to reshape their lives,” Comrie said. “The Department of Homeless Services must make certain that sex offenders cannot be housed in places they pose a threat to innocent people, especially children. I will work with my colleagues in state government to help ensure that families already suffering with the burden of homelessness, are more aptly protected.”
Recent statistics from the Coalition for the Homeless, a nonprofit that has provided services for New Yorkers in need since 1981, showed that New York’s homeless population has reached a record level high, an estimated 60,000 men, women, and children.
Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4546.