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May 4, 2010 2:33 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Two legislators want homeless sex offender trailers closed

May 4, 2010 2:33 PM

Continuing their opposition to the trailers in Westhampton and Riverside that house homeless sex offenders, Suffolk County legislators Jay Schneiderman and Ed Romaine last week introduced a bill that calls for Suffolk’s Department of Social Services to shutter the temporary shelters.

The bill will go to the Suffolk County Legislature’s Public Safety Committee, which is already considering two other resolutions that deal with housing the county’s homeless sex offender population, for consideration.

One of the other resolutions was introduced in March and calls for the trailers to stay open permanently. The other, introduced earlier last month, calls for the end of the Department of Social Services voucher program and gives the department 30 days to come up with a new system to house homeless sex offenders. It does not say that the trailers will be closed, which is part of the reason Mr. Schneiderman of Montauk said he introduced the resolution to decommission the trailers immediately.

“Three years is an awful long time for the East End community to shoulder the burden of housing homeless sex offenders, whose crimes are quite heinous,” he said.

The trailers, which do not have showers or kitchens, were placed on the Suffolk County Jail property in Riverside and off Old Country Road in Westhampton in 2007. County officials promised that the trailers would be moved, but later backed out of that agreement, prompting consistent protests from the East End community.

Earlier this year, after failing to find a suitable location for a permanent shelter in western Suffolk, where most of the offenders are from, County Executive Steve Levy announced that the trailers would be closed and the county will transition to a voucher system, in which offenders are given $90 a day to find housing and a meal.

But the legislature has not agreed to increase the Department of Social Services’s petty cash fund, effectively delaying a full transition.

“It’s an incredible policy that defies logic,” said Mr. Romaine, who lives in Center Moriches, of the trailer system.

Gregory Blass, the commissioner of the Department of Social Services, declined to comment on the latest legislation because he has not seen it yet.

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