Suffolk residents want Commack homeless shelter shuttered

Droves of local citizens turned out for today's county Legislature meeting to back a resolution by Legislator John Kennedy that would terminate the county's contact

A Commack homeless shelter that provides emergency housing for families with no place to go is under scrutiny from local residents who want to see the facility shuttered.

A Commack homeless shelter that provides emergency housing for families with no place to go is under scrutiny from local residents who want to see the facility shuttered. (11/8/13)

COMMACK - A Commack homeless shelter that provides emergency housing for families with no place to go is under scrutiny from local residents who want to see the facility shuttered.

The shelter is within a building that was formerly a hotel. Some local officials say it's in violation of county code, which states that shelters are to be limited to 12 families. The Commack shelter currently houses nearly 100 needy families, mostly those who've been affected by Sandy or the economic downturn.

Residents argue that it's putting undue strain on the community. Droves of local citizens turned out for today's county Legislature meeting to back a resolution by Legislator John Kennedy that would terminate the county's contact with the shelter's operator, Community Housing Initiatives.

Residents argue that the shelter is putting a burden on taxes, police and public schools. "It's not fair to take these homeless children, concentrate them in one school district and have them overcrowd schools," says Smithtown resident Larry Crafa. "They will not be able to learn effectively, nor will our children."

Advocates for the homeless say the overcrowding situation is indicative of the need for more affordable, permanent housing in Suffolk. "Residents need to recognize that these families need a home, and right now, this is their home," says Greta Guarton, the executive director of the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless.

County Executive Steve Bellone's office adds that the shelter is operating legally under state law.

Dawn Lissenden is among those staying in a cramped room at the Commack shelter. The single mother of two wound up homeless after Sandy destroyed her house and she lost her job.

She says she has but one wish for the holidays. "Christmas is coming, and I want a home for me and my kids,” she says.

advertisement | advertise on News 12

Top 5 Must See

A pedestrian was struck by a car and 1 Pedestrian struck by car, killed in Ronkonkoma
Police say Antonio Smith shot another man several 2 Freeport man facing charges in January shooting
Anyone with information is urged to call Nassau 3 Police: Men break into home, rob woman in Roslyn Heights
Police say 14-year-old Nicolo Signore was hit while 4 Teen fatally struck by car in Miller Place
A Queens man died Friday after a car 5 Driver strikes, kills pedestrian in Carle Place

advertisement | advertise on News 12

Features

Each week, News 12's Doug Geed explores the Check out fun things to do on the East End!

Explore the Twin Forks with News 12's Doug Geed.

Each week a different shelter visits News 12 Dog Day Fridays Series

Each week a different shelter visits News 12 Long Island with pets up for adoption.

News 12 digs deep to find Long Island's Discover Long Island's Hidden Past

News 12's Danielle Campbell digs into Long Island's roots.

News 12's Lily Stolzberg sees how much Long On The Spot

News 12's Lily Stolzberg sees how much Long Islanders know about everything and anything.

Sorry to interrupt...

Your first 5 are free

Access to News12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service Electric℠ video customers.

Please enjoy 5 complimentary views to articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.

LOGIN SUBSCRIBE