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In a recent effort to keep juvenile delinquents out of secured detention facilities, New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services stared a program called Close to Home, placing juvenile delinquents who do not pose risks to the public in group homes within the community.
While this is a positive move toward reforming the country’s treatment of juveniles, South Ozone Park in Queens, New York, feels they’ve been targeted by the government to be a “dumping ground” for shelters and group homes:
In the first phase of the initiative, begun in 2012, the city opened a six-bed, nonsecure group home on 128th Street, a block away from the new center. (That center opened so quietly and has kept such a low profile that many neighbors, including some of the most active critics of the new center, did not know about it until recent months.)
The neighborhood also has a men’s homeless shelter that includes convicted sex offenders, residents and officials said.
The residents are worries about public safety risks and depreciating real estate values. Although they claim this isn’t a NIMBY issue, the concerns voiced by community members are classic NIMBY:
“I want to make this clear: We’re not against the Close to Home initiative,” said Jeysha Ruiz, a leader of the opposition movement. “What we’re against is the inappropriate placement of the facility. It doesn’t belong in our neighborhood.”
We all complain the government isn’t doing enough for the less fortunate individuals in society, but when something actually happens too close to our own homes, we cry foul. It is a bit ironic, but can we really blame this kind of reaction? Even the most ardent advocate of juvenile delinquency reform might hedge if she received notice that 24 delinquents would be housed next door…