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Doe no! Shelter that refused sex offenders says city is foiling its recruitment drive

Gimme shelter: Neighbors of the Peter Jay Sharp Center for Opportunity on Porter Avenue say they don't want the city to transfer sex offenders into the facility.

The city has banned an organization that houses and employs homeless people from recruiting new members at a Crown Heights shelter, after the do-gooder group fought the city’s attempts to saddle it with dozens of convicted sex offenders, the outfit claims.

Staffers from the Doe Fund say the city-run Bedford-Atlantic Armory Men’s Shelter has repeatedly denied them entry over the past two months — thwarting the organization’s efforts to offer the refuge’s residents a place in its Ready, Willing, and Able street-cleaning teams and job-training programs, said a spokesperson.

“It leaves us in the position of having to get around the city’s homeless services system just to do our job, which is to serve the homeless,” said Alexander Horwitz, director of external affairs for the Doe Fund, which runs its own 400-bed shelter for program participants in an industrial part of Williamsburg.

The organization suspects the ban is part of the city’s ongoing efforts to force its shelter to house up to 50 homeless sex offenders that the Department of Homeless Services is trying to clear out of a Manhattan facility, said Horwitz.

The Doe Fund says it has been turning the offenders away at the door and has been fighting the city in court since April to keep the pervs out for good — claiming it can’t employ them in its cleaning teams because they work too close to schools, and the offenders would displace residents already living there and working through its program.

Now, Horwitz says, the city seems to be trying to deplete its supply of new recruits.

The ban began on July 16, when the Doe Fund sent members of its recruitment team to the Crown Heights shelter, where they were told by the center’s staff that they were under orders from the city’s higher-ups to deny them entry, he said.

The organization has continued to send recruiters to the shelter every few days, and the workers have been barred from entering the towering structure on Bedford Avenue every time — though that is not going to stop it from showing up, Horwitz said.

“We’ve continued to go to Bedford-Atlantic to do our part to keep the pressure up to show how ridiculous this all is,” he said.

Right now, the ban is more annoying than effective, said Horwitz — the Crown Heights shelter is just one of four shelters the organization enlists most of its charges from, and the others are still allowed to open their doors to recruiters. But it doesn’t bode well for the future, he said.

“A ban of one out of four doesn’t stymie us, but it sets a scary precedent for us,” said Horwitz. “We don’t know when or if they’re going to flip the switch on the other three or what that would mean.”

The Department of Homeless Services refused to comment.

Mayor DeBlasio’s office did not return a request for comment.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.

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