ASTORIA – New York City’s Department of Homeless Services has transferred a convicted child molester who was living in the shelter for homeless families at the Westway Motel after he voluntarily removed himself from the facility on February 4 amid the outcries of neighbors.
“James Bryant, 49, who was released from prison last year after spending 10 years behind bars for a 2003 sexual assault of a 7-year-old girl, according to the state Criminal Justice Division, was taken to an undisclosed location after an uproar from elected officials,” according to the Times-Ledger.
New York State Senator Jose Peralta, in whose district the motel is located, took the lead, but the Senator in the neighboring district, Michael Gianaris, received so many phone calls from angry constituents that he also took action.
DHS’s stealthy planned conversion of the Westway into a permanent shelter has outraged the community. “The continuing lack of information and transparency surrounding the Westway is extremely troubling and validates the community’s concerns about this location from the start,” Gianaris said.
Council Member Costa Constantinides has also been out front regarding Bryant and the wider issue.
He said, “It is unconscionable that a convicted violent sex offender is living in a shelter for families with children located within a residential family-friendly neighborhood. As a father, it is deeply troubling to learn that DHS does not take this setting into account when deciding where to house homeless individuals. This is one of the many deep concerns that I have had with the process of opening an emergency homeless shelter at the Westway Motel. Since the shelter opened last year, the community and local elected officials have had no voice in the process. We have lacked adequate access to the shelter facilities and its management, so it came to me as a shock that a violent sex offender has been permitted to live in this facility. The families in need who are living at the Westway deserve more than just a roof over their head – they deserve a safe place to live. I urge DHS to act swiftly and ensure that our families’ safety is a top priority.”