02/27/14 8:01am
02/27/2014 8:01 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Former taxi driver Charlie, homeless since September, sits outside the Riverhead Free Library one recent afternoon.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Former taxi driver Charlie, homeless since September, sits outside the Riverhead Free Library one recent afternoon.

On a recent weeknight, one Aquebogue church is barely visible from Main Road in the pitch dark.

But around back, the lights are on and 13 cars are parked in the rear lot, one van having just left. Inside Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, some of the area’s homeless are gearing up for a hot meal and warm place to stay.

Our Redeemer is just one of two houses of worship sheltering the homeless across the East End this night, part of a group of nearly 40 that unite each week during the winter — through local nonprofit Maureen’s Haven — to put a roof over the heads of the local homeless population.

It’s an effort that has required a heavier lift this year than in seasons past; Maureen’s Haven appears on track to serve more homeless this winter than ever before. After topping a previous high last season, housing 312 individuals over 108 nights, the organization has already served over 80 percent of that total this year, with nearly another month to go.

(more…)

01/17/13 11:52am
01/17/2013 11:52 AM
Greg Blass steps down as Suffolk County Department of Social Service head

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Greg Blass handling home heating oil subsidies as Department of Social Services commissioner in 2010.

Jamesport resident and one-time congressional hopeful Gregory Blass is retiring from his position as commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Social Services, after more than 35 years of public service.

Mr. Blass, also a former presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, family court judge and JAG officer in the U.S. Navy, was appointed as Social Services commissioner by former county executive Steve Levy in 2009.

Current County Executive Steve Bellone said in a release Thursday that Mr. Blass will be difficult to replace.

“Given Commissioner Blass’s unique resume, it will be impossible to fill his shoes with someone of equivalent experience,” said Mr. Bellone. “However, I will work hard to find a worthy successor who shares Greg’s commitment to serving Suffolk’s most vulnerable populations with compassion while at the same time running the department as efficiently as possible.”

Mr. Bellone said Mr. Blass’s job has proved a hefty one, as he joined the department in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

“Since 2008, we have seen Food Stamp caseloads more than double from nearly 23,000 to more than 55,000 and emergency housing requests have skyrocketed by 74 percent from an average of 270 per month to 471,” said Mr. Bellone. “Despite these challenges, Commissioner Blass has guided the department forward in a way that best serves Suffolk’s most vulnerable residents.

“In 2012 alone, the department averaged a placement of more than a family per day into permanent housing.”

Mr. Blass ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for New York’s 1st Congressional District seat in 1986, losing to Democratic candidate George Hochbrueckner.

His wife, Barbara Blass, is a former Riverhead Town Board member.

byoung@timesreview.com

Read more about Greg Blass’s career in the Jan. 24 News-Review newspaper.

01/08/13 1:01pm
01/08/2013 1:01 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The trailer for homeless sex offenders on the Suffolk County jail property in Riverside.

A 53-year-old man who was supposed to be living in the sex offender trailer at the Riverside jail was busted in Babylon Town for not registering his new address, officials said.

CARL GRAVES arrested in Amityville

CARL GRAVES

Carl Graves, who lives in the Department of Social Services’ homeless sex offender trailer in the jail parking lot, was initially arrested by Amityville Village police for drinking in public and they discovered he was wanted by Southampton Town Police for failing to register as a sex offender, according to local police, who said he had failed to report to the trailer since July 16.

He was charged with violating the state sex offender registration act on Dec. 31.

Mr. Graves is considered a Level 2 sex offender on a spectrum in which Level 3 offenders are deemed the most likely to re-offend.

He was convicted of second-degree rape in 2003 in Suffolk County Police jurisdiction, and the victim was a 14-year-old girl, according to the state sex offender registry .

He served one year in jail, according to the registry.

tgannon@timesreview.com