After promising last month to remove 52 registered sex offenders from Skyway Men’s Shelter in South Ozone Park, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) reportedly broke its promise and brought in four more sex offenders.
According to City Councilman Ruben Wills, the agency told him that this transfer was already in the schedule as they were making plans to remove the previously housed sex offenders.
“These [sex offenders] should have never been placed back into the shelter,” Wills said during a press conference Tuesday outside the Skyway Shelter. “They admit that the swap out was not done intentionally. It was already in the system coming down and I have no other choice but to believe that.”
Reportedly, the DHS also told Wills that the entire system put in place to judge sexual offender compliant sites will now be reviewed by the agency.
Since 2011, Wills has been working with community members including staff at the nearby P.S./M.S. 124 to make sure that sex offenders in the shelter would be removed. He received confirmation from DHS on July 7 that they would swiftly be transferred out after the agency discovered that the site was no longer compliant.
Parent Teacher Association President Eileen Lamanna said she was frustrated to find that more sex offenders were placed in Skyway Men’s Shelter but that she will not stop fighting until they are all removed.
“I couldn’t believe it. I got the phone call and I said, ‘Are you kidding me?'” Lamanna said. “It’s just like you take two steps forward and you take one step back again. We’re going to keep on top of it and if they think we’re going away, we’re not.”
Though Wills was told that the sex offenders would be transferred out quickly, the councilman said he understands that there should “never be a wholesale push to just warehouse sexual offenders in any community.” He will continue to monitor the agency and make sure that they comply with the timeline they set out for the full removal of the sex offenders, he said.
In the meantime, if the sex offenders are not removed before the school year begins, Wills said he has full confidence in the 106th Precinct to monitor the area and keep students safe.
“Our precinct has been incredible,” Wills said. “This is not their job. They work with the principal and the PTA president and the school community body as a whole to make sure that we have patrols in the mornings during arrival and dismissal.”
If the DHS does not remove the sex offenders in a timely fashion, Wills said he will file a lawsuit.
“I can’t let the residents of my district fall under false promises or governing by rhetoric,” Wills said. “At the same time, I cannot allow people who have actually served their time but are under supervision be placed in jeopardy also.”
The DHS did not immediately respond to The Courier’s request for comment.