updated 2/16/2007 9:11:19 PM ET 2007-02-17T02:11:19

A Long Island county is dealing with the not-in-my-backyard problem by housing sex offenders in trailers away from residential areas.

The program, which began this month, calls for the trailers to be shuttled to various locations on county-owned land from time to time.

Suffolk County officials settled on the idea after getting complaints about otherwise-homeless sex offenders living in motels near residential communities.

"We are seeking to be sensitive to communities that feel that a disproportionately large number of sex offenders have gravitated to their neighborhoods," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy.

Under state law, social service agencies must help find housing for homeless people, including sex offenders. The county decided to place the sex offenders in 500-square-foot trailers at a cost of $85 a night — cheaper than the $100 to $200 a night it had been paying for the motel rooms.

Citing privacy laws, county officials are not saying where the trailers are going — only that they will not be in residential areas.

The no-frills trailers have bathrooms and beds aligned in a barracks-type configuration. There are no TVs, telephones or kitchen facilities. Security guards will monitor the offenders, who will be kept inside from 8 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.

"This is exactly what we asked for," said Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan's Law, a Stony Brook-based group. "We're seeing an enhanced level of supervision in a very unique and pro-active approach."

Richard Hamill, president of the New York State Alliance of Sex Offender Service Providers, called the trailers a "terrible idea."

He said offenders leaving prison require a stable environment where they can find a job and receive the treatment. By moving the trailers, he said, officials "are now playing a shell game with the community."

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