Hundreds Protest to Stop Sex Offender Transfer
Formerly Homeless Men Demand Opportunity, Job Security, Safety; Mayor Leaves for Extended Vacation
On Tuesday evening, hundreds of formerly homeless and incarcerated men in bright blue uniforms stood across from the Mayor’s residence, demanding a halt of the forced transfer of sex offenders into the facilities where they live, study, and work. Video here.
The Department of Homeless Services recently informed The Doe Fund of their intention to remove fifty men at various stages of the Ready, Willing & Able transitional work program— a year-long residential program which combines paid street cleaning work with vocational training and social services— and replace them with sex offenders. In response, The Doe Fund has sued the City, the Department of Homeless Services, and commissioner Gilbert Taylor to stop the transfers. Fact sheet here.
“We will not put our staff, our trainees, or the communities where we work in danger because of the incompetence and recklessness of this administration,” said Harriet McDonald, co-founder of Ready, Willing & Able and Executive Vice President of The Doe Fund. “The Department of Homeless Services and the Mayor refuse to see the value of our program and our trainees. But we do. Millions of New Yorkers do, too. We have a moral duty to fight their outrageous demands both in court and on the streets— and we will not stop until the people we serve and the program we have worked for thirty years to create are safe.”
The city’s demands come on the heels of record homelessness rates in New York City, a violent rape in Kips Bay by a sex offender living at the Department of Homeless Services’ Bellevue Men’s Shelter, and the murder of Project Renewal Shelter Director Ana Charle by a former client at a Bronx facility designated by the city as a sex offender and mental health shelter. Timeline of events here.
For blocks surrounding Gracie Mansion and Carl Schurz park, the chants of the “men in blue” — as trainees in Ready, Willing & Able are known by millions of New Yorkers whose streets and sidewalks are cleaned through the program — could be heard. “We want to work!” the crowd shouted, “Don’t take our jobs!” This was the second public demonstration in recent weeks by The Doe Fund. The first was held outside DHS Headquarters at 33 Beaver Street in Manhattan. Coverage here.
The Doe Fund’s case in court is pending. The organization was denied its request for a temporary restraining order to bar DHS from sending sex offenders to the facility targeted by the agency, a 400-bed “Center for Opportunity” owned and operated by The Doe Fund at 89 Porter Avenue in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The denial was unsuccessfully appealed in Brooklyn’s Appellate Court. Since then, DHS has attempted several transfers of sex offenders charged with the rape of children and young adults. In each case, The Doe Fund provided private transportation for the individuals back to DHS.