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.