Non-Profit Group Promises High-Level Security

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Residents of Queens are outraged over plans for a new homeless shelter, where they are concerned that sex offenders may end up residing.

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As CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported, the non-profit group Samaritan Village wants to turn a vacant warehouse on Cooper Avenue in Glendale into a shelter for 125 homeless families. Neighbors are fighting the plan tooth and nail.

“The people that are moving in are caring people to take care of our area,” said Louise Goebel.

Goebel, 84, and her neighbors are fired up over the possibility that registered sex offenders could become their new neighbors.
“I have grandchildren in this area, friends — we grew up in this area,” said neighbor Debbie Webster. “It’s devastating to know there will be homeless people living here with sexual predators.”

In a letter outlining plans to local lawmakers, Samaritan Village said, “The Department of Homeless Services has both a mandate and an obligation to provide shelter to any eligible homeless person or family, regardless of criminal background.”

“The Sex Offender Registration Act does not restrict where a registered sex offender may live,” the letter continued.

Samaritan Village said the shelter will establish a 9 p.m. curfew and maintain 24-hour security. But residents say that’s not good enough – in particular because the area is full of children and families.

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“This is not the area to have it, and you don’t put it next to a business that caters to families,” said Denaul M. Jenkins II of the Artistic Stitch Sports Complex.

The property is right next to the sports complex, and within walking distance of several schools.

City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley (D-30th) is also fighting the proposal. She said the building slated for the homeless shelter was once a manufacturing plant that left contaminants in the soil.

“It’s simply not safe to put residents in this building,” she said. “It’s not zoned for it and it would be irresponsible and reckless for the city to do so.”

The city Department of Homeless Services will decide whether to approve the proposal. A department representative said there is no time frame for when officials will make the call.

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