A story published by the New York Post last week claiming that dozens of sex offenders had been relocated to the neighborhood caused an uproar in the community. But an investigation by local elected officials revealed that the claim was, in fact, false.
The Post’s story, which was published last Wednesday, reported that following an investigation by the paper, sex offenders housed at the Bellevue Men’s shelter on East 30th Street in Manhattan were transferred to the BRC shelter located at the intersection of McGuinness Boulevard and Clay Street.
Responding to concerns from the article, Assemblyman Joe Lentol sent a letter to the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) asking for the men to be removed from the shelter or at least equally distributed among the various shelters in the city.
“This Administration prides itself on transparency, but moving over a dozen sex offenders to a shelter in a residential community in the dark of night is the exact opposite of transparency,” part of the letter addressed to Gilbert Taylor, the commissioner of the agency reads. “For more than 40 years Greenpoint has been its brother’s keeper when it comes to playing home to homeless shelters, and we continue to accept that responsibility on the condition that we are not unfairly singled out to carry this burden.”
Lentol’s letter was followed by an investigation by Councilmember Levin’s office. Levin chairs the Council’s general welfare committee, and in his role works closely with the DHS. His conversation with the agency revealed that the story was in fact inaccurate – that sixteen sex offenders had been moved from the 30th Street shelter – but not to Greenpoint, but to several locations throughout the city. He encouraged people to come forward if they knew otherwise.
“Department of Homeless Services has told me unequivocally that the article is in fact inaccurate,” said Levin in a statement. “Just to be clear, there have always been registered sex offenders that have gone through 400 McGuinness, as it is one of only a couple single adult male assessment centers in the city, but this recent action is not adding to that.”
Lentol’s office too received word from DHS but have yet to receive a written confirmation. However his letter to the agency poses other important questions as well – whether local civic agencies such as community boards should be informed and local precincts notified before such transfers are approved, and if in fact the relevant agencies have breakdowns of the number of sex offenders placed throughout shelters in the city.
DHS, for its part, is legally required to accept individuals into its shelters regardless of their record and are not allowed to disclose the names and addresses of their clients, according to an agency spokesperson.
However records of sex offenders in Greenpoint are available on the State’s Division of Criminal Justice page, though those records might not be the most to up to date, it is evident that several are already housed at 400 McGuiness/146 Clay Street.