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Town attorney looks into Hampton Bays shelter

The Hidden Cove Motel in Hampton Bays. The

The Hidden Cove Motel in Hampton Bays. The motel has been operated as a shelter since October 2011 by a White Plains nonprofit, Community Housing Innovations. (Nov. 30, 2011) Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

At a special meeting Friday, Southampton’s Town Board voted to authorize the town attorney to look into litigation against the county, state and federal government over the opening of a homeless shelter in Hampton Bays.

The town has not decided whether to pursue that litigation, officials said.

Hidden Cove Motel on West Tiana Road was recently transitioned from a modestly rented motel to a homeless shelter for families.

Suffolk County Commissioner for Social Services Gregory Blass confirmed the move, calling families with children the fastest growing homeless population. Motels are often used to house families for emergency shelter because they usually have small kitchens and other necessities.

Residents say they are angry they were not alerted about the change. Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said the town was never notified of the change, either. She questioned the eviction of people who paid low rents to live there, but Blass said anyone who needed relocation help was given it.

The homeless population has risen dramatically in recent years because of the recession, county officials say — from 291 homeless families in 2008 to 519 this year on a recent November night. Only families, mostly women with children, will be housed at Hidden Cove Motel.

Suffolk Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Sag Harbor) said county law limits the number of shelter families in any one place to 12, but Blass said a county attorney opinion negates that law since the county is obligated by state and federal law to house anyone who comes to them needing shelter.

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