Sex offenders living in same location as homeless kids

BATAVIA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Homeless families with children who are being given shelter are being housed in the same place as sex offenders.

Genesee County says they have very few options for place to put the homeless. But now that homeless mothers living at Mark Trail on West Main Street in Batavia have learned sex offenders are also staying at the motel, they fear for their children’s safety.

One woman did not want her face shown when she spoke to News 4, saying she has no place else to live and is afraid of being kicked out.

“You’re going to put a sex offender where there’s multiple, multiple children on a daily basis? You’re going to put sex offenders out here and tell them listen don’t touch those little kids, but just watch them go outside and play? That’s crazy,” she said.

Parent Alyssa Demarzo added, “I’m just very concerned about it. I think we should have been aware of it.”

Since becoming a mom at 14, Demarzo has had a rough time making ends meet. She turned to the Department of Social Services for help in finding a temporary place to live.

“It’s not safe for us. DSS should move us or move them,” she argued.

According to the New York State Sex Offender Registry, there are currently three Level 3 sex offenders living at Mark Trail, with sexual abuse committed against a 13, 15, and 19-year-old.

Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell said, “The location [is] one of the few in the county that will take anybody who is considered homeless. The State Division of Parole also uses [the location] to house ex-offenders.”

He says it’s not against the law and it’s up to the landlord to decide who can and can’t live there.

“The county can’t control that, but obviously we do not consciously say, ‘Let’s put these people over there just because it’s convenient and easy,’” he said.

That is little reassurance for the mothers who call the motel their home.”

“They have a right to live. Obviously they did their time, but it’s like Social Services is just setting them up to fail or putting our children in jeopardy,” said one parent.

News 4 has been working on the story throughout the day. Late Thursday afternoon, the landlord of Mark Trail contacted the Department of Social Services and told officials that he has contacted the Division of Parole and asked them “not to place the kind of people that could may have an impact on their tenants” and would like families staying there to feel “comfortable and secure.”

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