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Sex offenders leave shelter near school

By Sadef Ali Kully

The city Department of Homeless Services has removed all Level 2 and 3 sex offenders from the Skyway Men’s Shelter off South Conduit in South Ozone Park, City Councilman Ruben Wills (D-South Ozone Park) said Wednesday.

The facility, a former motel at 132-30 South Conduit Ave. on the outer edge of Kennedy Airport, is home to more than 100 residents. It has been a controversial presence in the area since it was converted from a family shelter to a men’s shelter in 2011.

“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. We feared sex offenders would be housed there, and those fears eventually became reality,” Wills said.

In June, Wills’ office conducted a survey and he hired a contractor using personal funds. The contractor twice measured the actual distance between a nearby elementary school and the shelter, finding it measured 922 feet, which falls short of the state-mandated 1,000-foot boundary.

After the revelation, Wills presented the newfound measurements to the Department of Homeless Services, which decided to make changes based on state laws, he said.

In July, the Skyway Men’s Shelter housed 52 registered Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services’ Sex Offender Registry.

“I am pleased to report that sex offenders are no longer being housed at the Skyway Men’s Shelter. DHS has assured my office it will act more cautiously to ensure compliance with the state’s guidelines when sheltering such individuals,” Wills said.

A DHS spokeswoman said the agency had worked diligently to secure appropriate shelter placement for sex offenders at Skyway shelter.

“We will remain vigilant to ensure further compliance with the state’s guidelines,” she said.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skully@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

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