On Monday, July 20, 2015, there will be a groundbreaking ceremony for the Bea Arthur Residence, an 18-bed residence for homeless LGBT youth operated by the Ali Forney Center. In 2012 the New York City Council and the Manhattan Borough President awarded $3,300,000 for the renovation of a long vacant building owned by the New York City Department of Housing and Preservation Development. The building has now been turned over to the Ali Forney Center in partnership with Cooper Square Committee, and renovations are beginning this month. It is anticipated that the building will begin to provide housing by the end of 2016.
Arthur gave one of her final public performances as a benefit for the Ali Forney Center in 2005. She was very upset to learn that hundreds of thousands of LGBT teens were rejected by their families, and driven to homelessness. She said that she would do anything in her power to help these teens. When she died in 2009, the Ali Forney Center learned that she had bequeathed $300,000 to them in her will. At that time, Carl Siciliano, the Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center, pledged that the first building they owned would be named in her memory.
The groundbreaking ceremony will be held at the building site, located at 222 East 13th Street at 1 p.m. In attendance will be the staff and clients of the Ali Forney Center, as well as invited politicians who have supported this project and the work of the AFC, including Brad Hoylman, Democratic Senator for the New York State Senate in Manhattan’s 27th district, New York City Council Members Richie Torres, Danny Drum, Carlos Menchaca and Rosie Mendez, a representative from Mayor DiBlasio’s office, and Steve Herrick, Executive Director of Cooper Square.
Siciliano said, “It meant the world to me that a star of the magnitude of Bea Arthur would do so much to help the Ali Forney Center in our work of housing homeless LGBT youths. I am very grateful that we will now be able to honor Bea and continue to keep her compassion alive through the establishment of the Bea Arthur Residence for Homeless LGBT Youth.”
In an article prior to her passing, Bea Arthur said, “I’m very, very involved in charities involving youth. These kids at the Ali Forney Center are literally dumped by their families because of the fact that they are lesbian, gay or transgender – this organization really is saving lives.”
Steve Herrick, the Executive Director of Cooper Square, said: “I’m proud that we are developing this urgently needed housing for homeless LGBT youth in partnership with the Ali Forney Center, and I’m looking forward to moving this project to a successful completion.”
The Cooper Square Committee is an affordable housing preservation and tenant rights organization that has sponsored over 550 low income apartments, including dozens of homeless housing units.