There are at least 15 registered sex offenders living in a Corona hotel.
The Holiday Inn Express at 113-10 Horace Harding Expy. has been used as transitional housing for formerly incarcerated individuals since Sept. 25, according to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
Residents using the hotel facilities include those who have been released from Rikers Island or have returned from state correctional facilities, and identified themselves as not having stable housing where they could safely isolate from the COVID crisis. All of the hotel guests have served their state sentence, according to the DOCCS, and were placed into the community supervision program in partnership with the state Department of Social Services, city Department of Homeless Services and Mayor’s Office for Criminal Justice.
“Keeping communities safe remains our vigilant focus. A critical part of that is ensuring safe and secure spaces are created for those returning from incarceration, where individuals have access to targeted programs and resources to provide them and the communities they will ultimately return to the best possible chance for success,” a spokesperson from the Mayor’s Office told the Chronicle in an email.
The housing is facilitated through Exodus Transitional Community, a program that offers formerly incarcerated individuals programming to assist reassimilation into society, such as employment readiness, resume building, interviewing skills and counseling. Additionally the residents are monitored with 24/7 security.
Exodus is the same organization that has been overseeing the transitional housing program at the Fresh Meadows Wyndham Garden Hotel since April. Unlike the Holiday Inn Express hotel, the Wyndham Garden has only had one sex offender living there throughout the six-month program.
“The issue here isn’t about the transitional community as a whole. It’s not even about singular sex offenders moving into an area,” concerned neighbor Dennis Stephan said of the Corona site.
Stephan has been monitoring the number of sex offenders being moved into the hotel, but is only worried about those with a Level 3 rating, or those the state deems as the highest risk of repeat offenses. Ten of the current residents are listed as Level 3 offenders while the other five are Level 2.
All sex offender records are publicly available on the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services website.
“[They’re] concentrated in one property which is located extremely close to a public school, a high school and the Playground For All Children as well as Flushing Meadows Park,” said Stephan. All the locations he listed are located a third of a mile away from the hotel, but sex offender housing laws, specifically the Sexual Assault Reform Act, only restrict offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, thus making the Holiday Inn Express compliant.
A representative from the DOCCS said a site visit was conducted before moving in the current residents and confirmed it is suitable within the law. All guests are “intensely supervised with containment and treatment strategies to protect the public,” the spokesperson said.
“Providing a safe, structured environment in which individuals returning from jail are able to receive ongoing treatment, while being supervised by parole officers, is the most humane and effective way to ensure the highest levels of safety possible for them and the community,” the Mayor’s Office spokesperson reiterated.