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Town Authorizes Legal Action Against Homeless Shelter

Shelter may break county law passed in 2000.

Southampton Town took a step towards starting a lawsuit over the in on West Tiana Road during a Friday special meeting, when three board members authorized legal action.

But, Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato said that no formal action has been taken yet. Before doing anything, Scarlato wants to discuss the next move with the entire town board, as both Councilwoman Bridget Fleming and Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst were not present at the meeting.

The board may meet as early as next week to discuss the issue. The resolution approved at the special meeting stated that would target the “appropriate parties” for federal, state and local violations at the shelter, but further details on specific agencies were not immediately available. The Suffolk County Department of Social Services contracts with a Yonkers-based nonprofit called to run the shelter.

The deal between Community Housing Innovations and the motel owner – who the county pays $80 per night per occupied room – was inked almost two months ago.

The shelter may be breaking a county law passed in 2000, said Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman after the meeting. The law states that no more than 12 families will reside at any one emergency shelter.

Hidden Cover Motel already has at least 12 families living there and can have up to 30, Schneiderman said.

Schneiderman said he thinks that officials at the Department of Social Services feel they’re exempt from county law. There are projected to be over 600 homeless families in Suffolk next year, Schneiderman said.

The law also requires that local municipalities with emergency shelters receive a written list of all such facilities in the county quarterly.

“The department of social services is busy sheltering the homeless of the town of Southampton, while the town of Southampton is busy in court,” said Commissioner Greg Blass in a prepared statement made available on behalf of spokesperson Roland Hampson.

The commissioner could not comment further until he sees the lawsuit, Hampson said.

The Hampton Bays school district, whose has increased by 9 percent since 2004, may not be able to handle a huge influx of homeless children, said Hampton Bays Superintendent Lars Clemensen during the public portion.

Currently, the district has accepted a total of three students from the shelter, Clemensen said. Clemensen is most concerned about the effect potential future additional homeless shelters in Hampton Bays cottages and motels could have on the district.

“My concern is more global than Hidden Cove,” he said.

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