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Picket Planned Outside Of North Utica Motels That Accommodate Sex Offenders

Gino Geruntino, WIBX

There is growing concern among some North Utica residents about the type of occupants that are staying at motels in that part of the city.

That from Utica Councilman At-Large Jim Zecca who says inmates that released and sent to Utica are effectively homeless. The county provides housing vouchers for these individuals, he says, some of which are sex offenders.

”They’re getting out of state prison and they’re homeless and then they’re placed,” Zecca says.

”It’s all about policy. Everybody is finger pointing – ‘It’s the state’s fault, it’s the county’s fault, it’s the city’s fault.”

Oneida Housing Inc. just purchased the former Davis Motel on Herkimer Road and they are proposing to open it up as a six unit motel, Zecca said. But, because the motel was closed for six months, under the zoning laws, they need to reapply. There is concern that some of the motels in that area are taking sex offenders, and this would be another motel taking vouchers from sex offenders.

That motel has been closed since its owner was murdered by a convicted sex offender who was staying there.

Are hotels/motels required to take vouchers from the county, whether they be ex-inmates, sex offenders or some who have had bad luck and become homeless?

Some are criminals who have be released from prison, aren’t even from the area, and they go to the county for their vouchers and they’re placed, Zecca says.

The councilman says the opposition in this particular case is …”if this company is going to take vouchers, the residents don’t want them to receive the zoning variance. The issue has been tabled until May 14th (5pm). We’re urging people to show up to this meeting to let the zoning board of appeals know how they feel about this issue. They will listen,” Zecca says.

But, can a motel/hotel legally refuses to accept the vouchers for ex-inmates or sex offenders?

Zecca says he’s ‘hearing’ New York State law prohibits such discrimination, but still believes motels can reject vouchers if they choose to, he said.

”The county can have a policy for placing these homeless individuals in ‘other’ type of housing. Why would you take people like this, when you know there are sex offenders involved [and place them like this]”?, Zecca asked.

”We’re getting dumped on in the City of Utica. It’s not being spread out throughout the county, the concentration is North Utica motels,” he said.

We’re going picket outside the motels on Sunday afternoon at noon. We’re going to embarrass these motels into not accepting vouchers if that’s what it takes. One of these hotels is a chain, shame on them,” Zecca said.

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