Babylon Town officials have ordered a nonprofit to shut down...

Babylon Town officials have ordered a nonprofit to shut down a homeless shelter that is operating in this West Babylon building by the end of June, saying the Albin Avenue facility has been operating illegally for months. Records show the nonprofit, Family Service League, has a lease with property owner Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Babylon Town officials have ordered a nonprofit to shut down a homeless shelter in West Babylon by the end of June, saying the facility has been operating illegally for months.

The nonprofit Family Service League has used the Albin Avenue building as a shelter since December, after signing a lease in September with property owner Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church, records show. 

Family Service League said it has a contract with Suffolk County’s Department of Social Services to provide emergency housing for the homeless. 

But the nonprofit declined to share the contract and Michael Martino, a spokesman for County Executive Edward P. Romaine, advised Newsday to file a Freedom of Information Law request to obtain a copy — an inquiry that wasn't immediately answered Monday.

A May 6 letter from the town to the nonprofit said the organization “is currently operating outside of their certificate of occupancy and as such is operating without a valid certificate of occupancy.”

The letter, which orders a closure by June 30, added the nonprofit “is seeking to service and house more than three times their legal maximum occupancy.”

Church officials didn't respond to requests for comment.

From 1998 to 2009, the building was Christa House, a hospice for those dying of AIDS-related illnesses. The certificate of occupancy allowed 12 bedrooms with one occupant in each, Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said.

Starting in 2012, the nonprofit Maryhaven began using the building for a youth program before leaving the location about five years ago, according to Schaffer. He noted the structure is near the church's day care center and a park.

The supervisor said during a meeting at the shelter last month, he saw bedrooms with two and three beds in them, but he didn't know if the building now had more than 12 bedrooms.

Town officials provided a copy of the lease between the church and Family Service League that describes the building as having 35 rooms and 11 bathrooms. The document doesn't state the number of bedrooms.

But the five-year lease says the nonprofit is responsible for paying the church $120,000 in rent for the first year and the building would be used to house "a maximum of 40 medically and physically challenged handicapped homeless.” 

The lease states the church “makes no representation that the use of the premises by lessee is a permitted use under applicable zoning or building ordinances.”  It also says it's the “sole responsibility” of Family Service League “to comply with all governmental ordinances, laws, regulations, and rules” for the building and its use.  

Martino said in a statement the county is working to “ensure the best mutual outcome that benefits the quality of life for both the residents in the area and the vulnerable residents who receive these services.” He added that 20 men and 20 women had been living there, but the men were transferred to other shelters three weeks ago.

Don Miller, a spokesman for Family Service League, said in a statement the nonprofit was “responding to the concerns of the community” when it worked with the county to move the men to other shelters.

Miller said they are “seeking to resolve the certificate of occupancy issue while continuing to provide shelter and services to the women at the facility.” He said residents receive meals and support such as counseling and case management. 

 Schaffer said town officials met with three agents from Douglas Elliman Real Estate in April 2023 as they were marketing the property for the church and spelled out acceptable uses. Two of the agents didn't respond to requests for comment, while another declined to comment. Miller declined to say whether the church told the nonprofit of any limitations.  

Schaffer said town officials learned about the building's use as a homeless shelter after West Babylon Fire Chief Steve Kamalic notified them of emergency calls to the location. Department records show 16 responses between Jan. 3 and April 17, including two related to possible drug overdoses. 

West Babylon resident and Our Lady of Grace parishioner Daniel McCarthy, 49, said his “heart goes out to the homeless” but a shelter is “not appropriate next to a day care center and next to a park kids play at.”

Schaffer said the nonprofit could apply for a new certificate of occupancy, but still will have to close the shelter by June 30. 

Babylon Town officials have ordered a nonprofit to shut down a homeless shelter in West Babylon by the end of June, saying the facility has been operating illegally for months.

The nonprofit Family Service League has used the Albin Avenue building as a shelter since December, after signing a lease in September with property owner Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church, records show. 

Family Service League said it has a contract with Suffolk County’s Department of Social Services to provide emergency housing for the homeless. 

But the nonprofit declined to share the contract and Michael Martino, a spokesman for County Executive Edward P. Romaine, advised Newsday to file a Freedom of Information Law request to obtain a copy — an inquiry that wasn't immediately answered Monday.

A May 6 letter from the town to the nonprofit said the organization “is currently operating outside of their certificate of occupancy and as such is operating without a valid certificate of occupancy.”

The letter, which orders a closure by June 30, added the nonprofit “is seeking to service and house more than three times their legal maximum occupancy.”

Church officials didn't respond to requests for comment.

From 1998 to 2009, the building was Christa House, a hospice for those dying of AIDS-related illnesses. The certificate of occupancy allowed 12 bedrooms with one occupant in each, Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said.

Starting in 2012, the nonprofit Maryhaven began using the building for a youth program before leaving the location about five years ago, according to Schaffer. He noted the structure is near the church's day care center and a park.

The supervisor said during a meeting at the shelter last month, he saw bedrooms with two and three beds in them, but he didn't know if the building now had more than 12 bedrooms.

Town officials provided a copy of the lease between the church and Family Service League that describes the building as having 35 rooms and 11 bathrooms. The document doesn't state the number of bedrooms.

But the five-year lease says the nonprofit is responsible for paying the church $120,000 in rent for the first year and the building would be used to house "a maximum of 40 medically and physically challenged handicapped homeless.” 

The lease states the church “makes no representation that the use of the premises by lessee is a permitted use under applicable zoning or building ordinances.”  It also says it's the “sole responsibility” of Family Service League “to comply with all governmental ordinances, laws, regulations, and rules” for the building and its use.  

Martino said in a statement the county is working to “ensure the best mutual outcome that benefits the quality of life for both the residents in the area and the vulnerable residents who receive these services.” He added that 20 men and 20 women had been living there, but the men were transferred to other shelters three weeks ago.

Don Miller, a spokesman for Family Service League, said in a statement the nonprofit was “responding to the concerns of the community” when it worked with the county to move the men to other shelters.

Miller said they are “seeking to resolve the certificate of occupancy issue while continuing to provide shelter and services to the women at the facility.” He said residents receive meals and support such as counseling and case management. 

 Schaffer said town officials met with three agents from Douglas Elliman Real Estate in April 2023 as they were marketing the property for the church and spelled out acceptable uses. Two of the agents didn't respond to requests for comment, while another declined to comment. Miller declined to say whether the church told the nonprofit of any limitations.  

Schaffer said town officials learned about the building's use as a homeless shelter after West Babylon Fire Chief Steve Kamalic notified them of emergency calls to the location. Department records show 16 responses between Jan. 3 and April 17, including two related to possible drug overdoses. 

West Babylon resident and Our Lady of Grace parishioner Daniel McCarthy, 49, said his “heart goes out to the homeless” but a shelter is “not appropriate next to a day care center and next to a park kids play at.”

Schaffer said the nonprofit could apply for a new certificate of occupancy, but still will have to close the shelter by June 30. 

Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland. The conversation continues on newsday.com/nextli where we invite Long Islanders to share their experiences on this looming crisis of changing weather patterns, flooding, shoreline protection, home buyouts and more to find potential solutions for the region’s future.

Paying the Price: Long Island's stormy future Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland.

Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland. The conversation continues on newsday.com/nextli where we invite Long Islanders to share their experiences on this looming crisis of changing weather patterns, flooding, shoreline protection, home buyouts and more to find potential solutions for the region’s future.

Paying the Price: Long Island's stormy future Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland.

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