Modified: November 1, 2019 10:25am
Created: November 1, 2019 10:25am
Report of law enforcement data shows police were called an alarming number of times to hotels/motels where the county places kids and parents at taxpayer expense
Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw Jr. released a report that reviewed Erie County’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and found that vulnerable families, including children, are being housed in motels and hotels that are hotspots for police calls involving violent crimes and criminal activity.
In cooperation with the Amherst, Tonawanda, Hamburg police departments and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, the Erie County Comptroller’s Office also found the hotels/motels used as temporary emergency shelter by Erie County’s Department of Social Services (DSS) were listed as residences for multiple sex offenders.
“As a husband and father of three, this data is quite concerning. We alerted the Department of Social Services. Our office provided them our findings. Immediate action should be taken. This gross oversight needs to be remedied by those charged with keeping families safe, especially vulnerable children. The county could be putting these families at risk. Social Services should do its due diligence before placing kids in the same hotel as a sex offender, let alone an establishment where violent crimes have been reported. This needs to stop now,” said Comptroller Mychajliw.
The Comptroller’s Office reviewed data from nine hotels during a 45-month period (January 1, 2016 – September 8, 2019). Calls included, but not limited to, assault, rape and other sex offenses, armed robbery, harassment and drug possession. In all, 1,703 calls were made during the time period to the nine hotels where taxpayers pick up the tab for placing these families, with the University Manor in Amherst totaling the most with 514 calls to police.
When a family is in need of emergency shelter, for a variety of reasons, the county has the ability to utilize TANF funds from the federal government to place them in temporary housing. The report also looked at a component of the TANF program called Emergency Assistance to Needy Families (EAF). Specific details of which clients are assisted by TANF or EAF can be found in the report.
“The report found that the decisions made by Social Services are potentially putting families and children at risk. Data shows some of these establishments are a hotbed of criminal activity. They were the scene of very dangerous situations. It is also well documented that sex offenders have publicly listed some of these hotels as their residences,” said Comptroller Mychajliw. “Through a simple search of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, were found publicly available data alerting us to the presence of sex offenders in these motels and hotels that Social Services uses consistently.”
The report details that 60 level 2 or 3 registered sex offenders live within one mile of the nine hotels examined; 19 live within .5 miles; and four are currently registered at or were recently registered at one of the nine hotels. Specifically, the University Manor in Amherst is the address used by three registered sex offenders. Two are a level 3 and one is a level 2. They are listed as having committed offenses against girls between the ages of 3 and 15. The fourth offender listed The Stadium Inn in Hamburg as his address. He is a level 2 offender with felony sex offenses against two young girls, ages 10 and 12.
The report shows in detail the number of times police were called to each hotel/motel and the nature of the call. Please note, because of responses provided by the police departments, dates may vary.
“What is the county thinking? These are public records. Anyone can simply search for the data. It can be requested of local police departments. Why would those in charge of protecting vulnerable kids remove them from an unsafe environment, and place them in a potentially unsafe location near sex offenders and violent crimes? What’s also alarming is that taxpayers are paying the bill for this,” concluded Comptroller Mychajliw.
For a PDF of the report, please CLICK HERE.