Levy vetoes alternative plan to house sex offenders

County Executive Steve Levy has vetoed a bill that would have moved homeless sex offenders out of construction trailers in Riverside and Westhampton and into small, supervised shelters throughout the county.

The next step will be to see if there are 12 legislators who want to override Mr. Levy’s veto, according to South Fork Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk).

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Mr. Schneiderman said Tuesday of the veto, which the county executive had promised was coming.

But the legislator said he has a backup plan that could allow the shelter plan to proceed without a vote of the Legislature.

The Legislature on Dec. 21 voted 11-7 to authorize the Department of Social Services to entering into agreement with a company called Community Housing Innovations to operate small shelters for homeless sex offenders at locations throughout the county. But Mr. Levy last Thursday vetoed it.

“We have consistently stated that its preferred method to meet its state mandate of housing the small population of homeless sex offenders is through the same manner used by neighboring Nassau and Westchester counties, which is a voucher system,” Mr. Levy said in his veto message.

The county executive and the Legislature both claim to want to end the current policy of putting all of the homeless sex offenders receiving county assistance into two East End trailers, including one at the Riverside jail, but both have supported different alternatives.

Mr. Levy had consistently supported the voucher system, in which homeless sex offenders in the county’s care receive a voucher for up to $90 per day, and find their own housing in motels. The legislature voted against the voucher system last year.

The Legislature has supported having small shelters as an alternative to the vouchers, but Mr. Levy has vetoed that plan on several occasions.

But Mr. Scheiderman said the only reason the CHI vote even came before the Legislature was because they were the only contractor to respond to the request for proposals. But he said another contractor, called Havens House, had submitted a proposal that arrived beyond the deadline to receive proposals.

He said if there is not enough votes to override the veto, he also has submitted a resolution to grant a waiver to Havens House, which would mean there would be two contractors competing, and the vote of the Legislature would no longer be needed.

Mr. Schneiderman said that since only 11 legislators voted for the CHI plan to begin with, and one of those has since become a state assemblyman, he’s not sure he’ll have 12 votes for the override. However, he said he feels the waiver bill will have support and will be tough for Mr. Levy to veto.

“He can veto that, but boy, does that look like he’s an obstructionist of what?,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

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