In 2011, the shelter, which originally served homeless families, was converted to a men’s shelter. According to Councilman Ruben Wills, at times it housed upwards of 50 registered sex offenders.
“This was a long, hard battle. It was warranted, it was necessary,” said Wills. “Today, the Department of Homeless Services announced that this is not a compliant shelter and that they will be removing the sexual offenders in an expedited service.”
New York State law requires that registered sex offenders live further than 1,000 feet from a school or other facilities that care for children. The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) assured concerned residents that Skyway met the legal requirement.
But after hiring an outside company, Wills discovered that the distance from shelter door to the door of PS 124, on the corner of 130th Street, was over 1,000 feet, but the distance between the property lines was only 919.53 feet.
“This is not a NIMBY issue,” Wills said. “Sex offenders levels 2 and 3 should not be in anybody’s backyard, that’s what the issue is.”
According to Debbie Capuano, past PTA president of the school, parents and staff were willing to live with a family shelter.
“We had no problems when it was a family shelter,” she said, adding that the children in the shelter benefitted from the services at PS 124. “This was their only safe ground. This was where they came for their meals, and they were moved so quick.”