Not Enough Shelters for Suffolk's Homeless Sex Offenders

Despite a new law to relocate homeless sex offenders, about 40 remain in trailers on the East End.

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A new law was passed in Suffolk County this year, with the goal of relocating a large group of homeless sex offenders that were living in trailers in Southampton Town. But there are not enough shelters to provide housing for the 40 ex-convicts, and they are still living in the trailers.

After a deadline to relocate the sex offenders came and went in January, County Executive Steve Bellone worked with Suffolk Police to form a concrete plan to find housing for the criminals. On Feb. 5 (more than a month after the original deadline), the county passed a new law stating that homeless sex offenders must be sent to different homeless shelters, with no more than one sex offender at each shelter.

According to Newsday, there are not enough single shelters in Suffolk that comply with the county’s law prohibiting where sex offenders can live. There are only four shelters that can house single males, and six shelters that can house either male or female singles.

County officials are now hoping to overturn the limitations on where they can live. As of now, county law requires that all convicted sex offenders live more than 1,320 feet away from a school, playground or day-care.

There are about 1,000 convicted sex offenders in Suffolk County, and about 40 of those are homeless. The two trailers have been housing the homeless convicts since 2006, and local residents have consistently protested the housings.

County officials say there are no plans to move the sex offenders due to the restrictions on where they can live. They will wait on a final court decision, which they say is “imminent,” and will overturn these restrictions.

There is a provision which would allow offenders that were convicted of lesser sex crimes to find housing under state residency law, which is less restrictive than the county’s. Under state law, sex offenders can live within 1,000 feet of schools or day cares. However, a spokeswoman for Steve Bellone said that they are not planning on taking advantage of that provision.

For now, Southampton will continue to house the sex offenders as county officials wait for a federal judge to reverse limitations on where sex offenders can live.