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Neighbors complain house an illegal homeless shelter, officials say

A house on Beach Lane in Coram is

A house on Beach Lane in Coram is being used illegally as a homeless shelter, neighbors have told officials.It is seen here on Wednesday. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Brookhaven Town and Suffolk County officials say they are trying to resolve problems at a Coram house following complaints that it is being run as an illegal homeless shelter.

The house, a former funeral home on Beach Lane in Coram's Gordon Heights section, is occupied by an unknown number of unrelated residents and has undergone renovations without town permits, officials said this week.

Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said Tuesday the county should remove the tenants and cease social services payments to the house's owner, listed in real estate records as Kismet Domi of Shirley. Domi did not return a call seeking comment.

"This house should have been demolished by the town after complaints from the neighbors about its condition," Romaine said in a statement. "It was and is an eyesore that continues to have a very negative impact on the neighborhood. Something must be done to make this right again."

Brookhaven has cited Domi for several building code violations, including failure to obtain a rental permit and a certificate of occupancy, town officials said.

Domi is scheduled to appear on June 24 in 6th District Court in Patchogue to answer those charges, town officials said.

Romaine says the house is an illegal homeless shelter.

But Suffolk Legislature Presiding Officer Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue) called it an "illegal rooming house" whose residents pay rent to Domi. The county has taken steps to remove some residents who used county financial assistance vouchers to pay rent, said Calarco, who represents the neighborhood.

"Obviously, it is a challenge nonetheless," Calarco said in an interview Wednesday. "There are concerns in the community about this kind of thing coming up."

Town officials said they had targeted the house for demolition several years ago, before Suffolk County seized it after it had become vacant. The county later sold it at auction to Domi, officials said.

E. James Freeman, president of the Gordon Heights Civic Association, said the group had fought to remove absentee landlords from area houses and address overcrowding at some houses. Although he said he favored working with homeowners to provide affordable housing and services for needy people, he said Domi had not tried to work with the civic group.

"If they would have come to the community, we would have been more than happy … to be able to find the best fit for the area," Freeman said, adding he was "a thousand percent confident" town and county officials would resolve the matter.

Freeman said he would oppose demolishing the house because it appeared to be in good shape and could be used to help provide affordable housing.

"If the house can be rehabbed and be a vital part of the community … then I’m all in favor of rehabilitating the houses ," he said.

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