No Action on Homeless Shelter Resolution

Suffolk County lawmakers again tabled a proposed resolution to end a contract with  the provider of a homeless shelter located on the Hauppauge/Commack border after a Monday morning meeting of the county's Human Services Committee. 

The resolution, introduced by Suffolk Legis. John M. Kennedy Jr., says the shelter exceeds the amount of families it is allowed to house and is asking that the contract between the county and the shelter’s operator be terminated.

The large shelter located in an old hotel in Commack has the capacity to house 100 families and is within 1.4 miles of another large shelter in Brentwood, which when combined will give the county the ability to house more than half the roughly 565 homeless families in Suffolk County in under a two-mile radius. Children housed there attend school in the Hauppauge school district.

Kennedy is at odds with the county's attorney, Dennis Brown, who said the shelter falls under state emergency housing laws that pre-empt county law and allow for the higher number of families to be housed there. 

"It is a question of equity and fairness," said Kennedy. "There is a disproportionate impact to school district, ambulance and fire districts."

Kennedy outlined further concerns after the meeting and said that local controls could be limited in this type of situation.  According to Brown, local officials did not need to be notified of the shelter’s existence under state law.

“The real long standing concern is that this facility is going to be regulated by the state and take any control, permitting or notice from a local level,” Kennedy told a group of residents after the meeting.

Kennedy said it is a county issue.

"There are many other locations that house five, six, seven families. Everybody acknowledges that each area has some responsibility to assist with a smaller number of folks, but quite frankly i have yet to find anybody who is embracing this concept of megashelters," said Kennedy.

Residents frustrated by the lack of movement on the issue said they would not dissuaded.

"We will be here every single time" said one.

Al@suffolkunited November 27, 2013 at 01:43 PM
Laurie 1) Yes we are fighting to break the contract with CHI. We are NOT trying to get rid of the homeless from the shelter, we are trying to get them relocated into small homes or smaller shelters throughout the communities for CHI to use them instead of MEGA shelters. 2) As the article stated over half the homeless is located 1 mile apart with 96 families in Commack, and 400 people on Crooked Hill Road in Brentwood. There is also another one with 35 families in Smithtown within that distance. This is in ADDITION to the legal small 12 families’ shelters already in our area that we have never had a problem with. It is very fair to say that is a great disproportion. 3) Suffolk county law states 12 families max per shelter, no more than 48 families in a 2 mile radius. These are illegal shelters operating as Tier 2 which have not been approved by the state. 4) Many of these people are from out of state and have been open about coming here because they could no longer be on their state’s welfare system anymore. 5) We have tried to FOIL the stare 2 times and have been denied information on how much state aid we are receiving for the in state students. We receive no aid for out of state children.
Al@suffolkunited November 27, 2013 at 01:43 PM
6) To put in prospective what #4 can mean to the people of Hauppauge and any other area that receives out of state children. A regular ed student costs the district about $14,600 per year to educate. A special education student or special needs cost about $56,000, due to extra teachers/testing/meeting. These numbers are not made up and can be found on the district report to the state. So far Hauppauge and Smithtown school districts as not received ANY state aid for in state students and will NOT receive any state aid for out of state people. I am awaiting a report on Commack and Brentwood. Considering 30 as a conservative number and 2/3 of the students being special needs that will cost the district $146,000 for the regular ed students and $1,120,000 for the special ed students. ….. Hauppauge only receives about 18% of budget aid for their own resident students from the state compared to other districts that receive over 80%. The homeowners taxes pay for the school budget and will have to cover any new shelter students. There are already more then 30 students. 7) Well then just raise school taxes then. No, we cannot do that. New York State has the tax cap which limits us to 2% or consumer price index which will be about 1.5%, whichever is higher. High school electives could be cut to cover this, enrichment programs and many other services we have to cover these new costs. Many people saved for years to buy a house in Hauppauge because of the excellent schools, they should not have to lose programs and services for their own students because the county wants to group over half the homeless in two locations. 8) If people think we are such horrible people then advocate for the homeless yourself, and fight with us. Yes, we want to break the contract, but by doing so will make the county follow their own rules and limit to 12 families per shelter. If we have shelters spread throughout Suffolk County where there is 71 different school districts no one district will be overburdened. Students will not be known as shelter students since everyone knows where the shelter is. They would have more privacy and be able to live in different neighborhoods without the label as homeless. They do not have kitchens to cook in forcing them to eat in places like 7/11. If they were relocated to the smaller shelters they have 2 bedroom apartments with a full kitchen to cook healthy meals. They would be able to receive more personal services. 9) At some point we have to stand up for our communities. No one was complaining about the small shelters we had or the students we had in the past. We are not just going to let Suffolk County violate their own laws and overburden our community. If other people feel so strong adopt a family in your own house. Let them have a home to go home to that is not a motel with no kitchen. Have them go to school in your district where no one will know that due to whatever situation that they lost their homes. If all you can do is complain and tell us we are horrible people and get use to it try doing something to help them yourselves.
robert gennari November 29, 2013 at 10:01 AM
Laurie Downs... Hauppauge parents are not "taking it out on the children"... The fact remains that there are 525 homeless families in Suffolk county... There are 71 school districts... It's simply inequitable and an unfair burden on Hauppauge taxpayers to have to support 95 or more (about 20%) of the homeless families in our school district... Simple math and common sense would place 7-8 families in each district... That's what we're trying to accomplish...
Jmm November 30, 2013 at 12:12 PM
Al, I was initially against any protesting about the shelter, but you explained it well & I agree with what you wrote.


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