Suffolk County has won a ruling from the Appellate Division in Brooklyn allowing it to use a new trailer with showers for homeless sex offenders in Westhampton, but social services officials now say they have no plans to use the new quarters.
“Notwithstanding this victory in the courts, we have no intention of expanding the Westhampton trailer,” said Gregory Blass, Suffolk’s commissioner of social services. “In fact, we were seeking long ago to close the trailers and to institute a voucher system similar to that in Nassau County — but the legislature blocked that.”
The county has had an 18-bed trailer next to the county jail near downtown Riverhead, which is routinely filled, and has used an eight-bed trailer in Westhampton as a backup site.
Southampton Town officials challenged the use of the new trailer with showers after advocates for the homeless won an earlier court ruling requiring the county to provide improved shower facilities for sex offenders in the trailers. Because of the ongoing legal battle, the county, in the meantime, made alternate sites available for sex offenders to shower.
The department is also following a legislative directive to establish a system of mini-shelters for homeless sex offenders — with each shelter overseen by a community board — so no one area becomes oversaturated. One contractor is in the midst of selecting sites, but none of the new facilities has opened.