South Ozone Park residents can breathe a little easier knowing that the sex offenders housed in Skyway Men’s Shelter have been removed by the Department of Homeless Services (DHS).
Councilman Ruben Wills announced Wednesday that the agency, which promised to transfer the level 2 and 3 sex offenders in July but actually transferred four more into the location, has finally removed all 56 sex offenders from the non-compliant site.
“Several years ago, our community was taken aback by the sudden and rapid conversion of the Skyway Family Center into a shelter for single men,” Wills said. “We feared sex offenders would be housed there, and those fears eventually became reality.”
The shelter, located at 132-30 South Conduit Ave., is two blocks away from P.S./M.S. 124 and was originally a family shelter. It was turned into a men’s shelter in 2011.
Though the DHS claimed that the location was 1,056 feet away from the school, Wills conducted his own survey and found that the real property boundary line from the school to the shelter was less than 930 feet. The facility should be at least 1,000 feet away from a school to be considered a compliant site.
Wills, along with community members and staff from P.S./M.S. 124 have been fighting to make sure the sex offenders were removed since last summer and the councilman also threatened to file a lawsuit if DHS did not keep its promise. The agency assured Wills that “it will act more cautiously to ensure compliance with the state’s guidelines when sheltering such individuals.”
“We worked tirelessly to protect our children, and to prove that the basis by which these individuals had been placed at Skyway was flawed,” Wills said. “This outcome would not have been possible without the leadership and advocacy of our PTA at P.S./M.S. 124, Community Board 10 and South Ozone Park Civic Association West. I especially want to commend the NYPD’s 106th Precinct for its steadfast efforts to keep our children safe.”