Coronavirus News: Parents, children protest plan to turn Long Island hotel into homeless shelter

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Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Hundreds protest against Long Island hotel being converted into homeless shelter
Stacey Sager reports on the protests on Long Island.

JERICHO, Long Island (WABC) -- Hundreds of local parents and children from the Jericho School District held rally Tuesday morning to speak out against a hotel being converted into a homeless shelter in the local community.

The event was held outside of Oyster Bay Town Hall, where those in attendance discussed what they call unsafe conditions for the children and families in the neighborhood.

The group, called Concerned Jericho Parents, handed the Oyster Bay town supervisor a petition with more than 2,000 as officials begin legal action to halt the project that they say had no public input.

All of it is set against the backdrop of more and more hotels in New York City also being converted to house the homeless amid the coronavirus pandemic and strong fears and uncertainty from taxpayers in this community with the best school district on Long Island.

"We don't know the individuals that are moving in here," parent Marc Albert said. "We don't know their background or anything about them. That's not the issue. The issue is it seems this plan was put into affect without any thought. How is going to impact our schools? How is it going to impact safety?"

A New York state Supreme Court judge placed a temporary restraining order on the conversion of the old Hampton Inn into a 80-family homeless complex.

Related: Sex offenders at Upper West Side hotel will likely extend their stay

A handful of convicted "sexually violent" level 2 sex offenders, who recently moved into an Upper West Side hotel that's now set up as a homeless shelter, will likely stay there.

The plan still has its supporters, and a counter protest was held nearby -- even though attendees were greatly outnumbered.

"Their language changed in the last few weeks," Jericho resident Marissa Finn said. "A few weeks ago, they were protesting having, quote, 'those kids in our schools,' and some smart person told them that's not OK language to use. So they switched to complaining about the legality."

The situation at the rally was heated, particularly when one protester decided to shout without his mask on.

Nassau County favors the plan, with a spokesperson for Nassau County Executive Laura Curran saying in a statement that it's a legal requirement from the state that the county provide these services for eligible residents.

Related: Manhattan homeless hotel causing concern for nearby residents

Hundreds of homeless men are now living in the Lucerne Hotel on Amsterdam and 79th Street, and many neighbors are not happy about the move.

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