Brooklyn Homeless Shelter Enraged at NYC

      BROOKLYN (CN) – A homeless shelter that prides itself on putting its residents back to work claims New York City has turned it into an “outer-borough warehouse for sex offenders.”
     The Doe Fund sued New York City and its Commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services Gilbert Taylor on Wednesday in Kings County Supreme Court.
     The Doe Fund, a 30-year-old nonprofit, signed a 17-year, $157 million contract with the city in 2012 to run the Porter Avenue Shelter, a 400-bed refuge for the homeless in Brooklyn’s East Williamsburg neighborhood.
     The Doe Fund says it’s famous for its “men in blue” crew of “homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals,” who clean city parks and streets in “a unique program that seeks to truly break the cycle of homelessness.”
     “Unlike any other shelter in the city, the Doe Fund doesn’t just provide temporary shelter, it puts residents back to work and teaches them the skills they need to rebuild their lives,” the complaint states.
     In April the center’s director got an email from the city Department of Homeless Services saying it had to swap out three beds to make room for sex offenders, according to the complaint.
     The director balked, but was told that the center had been designated as a shelter for sex offenders because it’s more than 1,000 feet from a school, in accordance with the Sexual Reform Act.
     The city said it intends to give 50 more beds to sex offenders, though the Doe Fund told it that it lacks the security measures to handle them, according to the complaint.
     “In plain violation of both the explicit terms of the contract and the spirit of the entire contractual scheme, the city has designated the Porter Shelter as a sex offender shelter and demanded that the Doe Fund accept dozens of sex offenders as residents, even though the shelter does not have the beds, the resources, or the expertise to treat them,” according to the lawsuit.
     “This is a blatant attempt to transform the Porter Shelter from a back-to-work program that provides temporary housing into an outer-borough warehouse for sex offenders.”
     The center says its contract prohibits the city from what it’s trying to do: “The Doe Fund never agreed to enter the sex-offender-housing business,” it says.
     “The Doe Fund cannot fulfill its central mission – to alleviate homelessness through work placement – with sex offenders who, by law, cannot fill its job positions because they cannot clean parks and playgrounds or otherwise go within 1,000 feet of a school,” the lawsuit states.
     It asks the court to stop the city’s “focused transfer of dozens of sex offenders” to its shelter.
     The nonprofit was founded in 1985 to serve the homeless through “holistic programs” and “catapult” them out of the “cycles of homeless, crime and addiction,” according to the complaint.
     Its contract with the city extends to 2031.
     Of its 400 beds, 138 are reserved for homeless vets. They are removed “as quickly as possible out of the shelter system,” the center says.
     It is represented by Andrew Celli Jr., with Emery, Celli, Brinkerhoff and Ababy.

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