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Panel puts off vote to defund Suffolk homeless shelter

Suffolk Legis. John M. Kennedy.

Suffolk Legis. John M. Kennedy. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

A Suffolk legislative committee Tuesday put off a vote on a measure to deny funding to a Commack homeless shelter that has sparked protests from residents of the Hauppauge school district.

Human Services Committee members voted to table a measure by Legis. John M. Kennedy Jr. (R-Nesconset) to terminate the county's contract with a nonprofit that operates the shelter, which houses about 100 families.

They said they hoped outstanding questions could be answered by Social Services Commissioner John O'Neill, who was ill and could not attend the meeting.They also noted a meeting between district and county officials had been delayed due to the weather.Kennedy pressed unsuccessfully last year for similar legislation to close the shelter in response to complaints from residents and parents who said the school district couldn't accommodate the number of children from the shelter.

There were 16 students from the shelter attending the Hauppauge school district as of January, down from 21 at the end of December, according to district and county figures. The district has about 4,000 students. Another 127 students at the shelter are bused to the school districts they attended before moving to the shelter, located in a former hotel.

Kennedy urged legislators to take up his bill this year, because "this issue is not going to go away."

Legis. Kate Browning (WF-Shirley), the committee's vice chairwoman, told about a dozen opponents of the shelter who attended the meeting that, "I cannot in good conscience say that Hauppauge is more burdened than anyone else."


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