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Sex offenders residing at shelter near PS 124

Skyway Shelter in South Ozone Park, where more than 20 sexual offenders reside, according to the state registry. Photo by Karen Frantz
TimesLedger Newspapers

More than 20 sex offenders are living in a South Ozone Park shelter that is 1,000 feet away from PS 124, according to the New York state sex offender registry.

The Skyway Shelter, at 132-10 South Conduit Ave., is a men-only homeless shelter that used to be a family facility until last year. According to the registry, 24 sex offenders currently live there, many of whom have records of violent offenses and offenses against minors.

City Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) charged in a phone interview that the city Department of Homeless Services did not live up to its assurances to the community that it would try to keep sex offenders out of the facility.

“You’re basically using our children as cheese on a mousetrap,” he said.

A staff member from Wills’ office attended a Community Board 10 meeting Sept. 6 to alert attendees to the issue and to an upcoming town hall meeting addressing it.

Wills said DHS made the promise to the school and the PTA after the Skyway Shelter was converted from a family shelter to a men-only facility, and it was discovered a handful of sex offenders were housed there.

A spokeswoman for DHS said it is obligated under law to provide housing for people who qualify.

“Pursuant to court orders, Homeless Services is under legal mandate to provide shelter to all homeless individuals or eligible families regardless of their criminal background, including sex offender status,” said Heather Janik, DHS press secretary.

DHS does not perform background checks on shelter applicants and relies on self-reports or reports from the state Division of Parole or other government agencies for information about whether a person has sex offender status.

The Division of Parole is required to provide notice when the most serious offenders are coming to a social service district and DHS takes that under consideration when placing offenders in a shelter, but an official with the DHS said it rarely, if ever, receives notices from Parole.

Wills said, however, that the Skyway Shelter is employment-based and it should be asking background questions about things like sexual offender status that may bar a person from certain jobs.

He said that in October there will be a town hall held in conjunction with the school and efforts were underway to teach children how to remain safe and to set up corridors and other basic security measures around the school to make sure the area is well-patrolled.

He said that although he understands DHS has an obligation to place people who need housing and he does not want to alarm the community, he questions placing such a large concentration of sex offenders in southern Queens.

He said he is pushing for the Council to have a meeting to see why this is happening and if it is occurring in other minority communities.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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Reader Feedback

mp1234 says:
The Dachau of America. Registries do not tell you who the predators are, 90% of arrests and convictions are made against first time offenders, so the predators you need to be worried about are people you already know and trust, that you are more than happy to leave your children with. Most of those on the registries have been through treatment or have been ‘scared straight’ in a sense for they know the demoralization that they are subjected to and will not make that mistake again. The recidivism rate for an RSO to commit another sex crime is below 5%. The greatest threat to your children is in your family photo album.
Sept. 14, 2012, 8:11 am
jay says:
I hope the DHS continues to help everyone. As mp1234 states above, registered sex offenders are the least likely of all criminals to re-offend and your children should be more afraid of who is sitting in your living room.
Sept. 14, 2012, 7:38 pm
mt says:
I should think that they should help them especially since there are discriminated against due to lies told by lawmakers and government about the re offense rate which is extremely low! I will no longer donate to charities who have publicly stated they will not help so,s. and they need the help the most!
Sept. 14, 2012, 9:27 pm
Mark says:
Yeah, just as long they're not in your neighborhood!
May 2, 2013, 11:22 pm
j says:
As a resident of the area. You do not see tge behavior that these men exhibit. They hang out in the park and DRINK. they hang out at the bus stops that children take to get home. They have followed women home as i am one who has been acosted on more than one occasion. Doesn't one deserve to be safe in a place they have lived all their lives?.
Jan. 1, 5:58 pm
Concerned Citizen from Queens says:
I have grown extremely concerned and troubled at the manner in which communities address the s.o. status of some individuals within the community. Yes, level 2 and level 3 are notable reasons for concern. However, I have witness individuals not on the regisry that are classified as low level of offenders get that exact same restrictive treatment of high level offenders. What are we doing as a society but driving a population into the near brinks of re-offending. What about the robbers, murderers, car theives living right next to you. Think beyond fear factor and start practicing sound, intellectual public safety. Especially, you community members who claims your spiritual connections on Sunday. "yea without sin cast the first stone".
March 26, 2:41 pm

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