Local elected leaders are railing against city policy that allowed a sex offender to live in the former Whitestone Capri Hotel at 555 Hutchinson River Parkway, located near the Whitestone Bridge in a family homeless shelter among young children.
The sex offender in question was on probation for raping a 15-year-old.
The issue of sex offenders living in close proximity to minors has drawn scrutiny in recent weeks.
According to a report published last month by the Independent Democratic Conference, of which Senator Jeff Klein is the most prominent member, there are 93 registered sex offenders citywide living within 1,000 feet of a pre-kindergarten facility and 60 living within 1,000 feet of a school.
Klein’s said a total of nine level two and three sex offenders are living at Bronx family shelters, up from three sex offenders found in a previous 2015 study.
Klein held a press conference in front of the Throggs Neck shelter with Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and other area elected officials on Saturday, September 9.
“It’s unthinkable that the same sexual predators are able to coexist with the vulnerable children living inside the city’s family shelters,” Klein said in a statement.
“The city should immediately remove all sex offenders from these shelters, and when I get back to Albany I will continue to fight to prevent this from happening in the first place,” he added.
Benedetto vowed to address the issue once the legislature reconvened in Albany.
“It is hard to believe that the city still hasn’t got their act together on this matter,” the assemblyman stated. “Children are being placed at risk. January can’t come fast enough so we can begin to address this problem legislatively.
Councilman James Vacca announced on his official Facebook page that he was notified on Thursday, September 7 by a resident that a sex offender was living at the Crystal Family Center.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable that a child rapist, or any sex offender for that matter, is placed with children at a family homeless shelter,” Vacca said. “We must do everything we can to protect children from dangerous predators.”
Vacca alleges city rules allow a sex offender to be housed in a family shelter if the offender is part of a family unit himself, and urged that policy to be changed immediately.
A spokesmen for the NYC Department of Homeless Services said under state law, level 1 and some level 2 non-residency-restricted sex offenders do not have any restrictions on their residences, whether in temporary housing or in the community.
The department spokesman also said the public posting of the addresses of individuals in shelters was a violation of state social services law, and could put those being sheltered at risk.
“Our top priority is protecting the safety of every individual and every family experiencing homelessness as they re-stabilize their lives. While we can cannot discuss specific cases due to client confidentiality, we respect the constitutional rights of all families and provide temporary housing to New Yorkers facing hard times in accordance with State Law.”