The New York City Council has voted to retain Runaway and Homeless Youth Services funding at 2011 levels – contrary to Mayor Bloomberg’s budget released in early May, which would have cut RHYS funding by $7 million and eliminated 160 out of 250 existing youth shelter beds in the city.
Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center (AFC), said in a statemnt, “I am grateful to the New York City Council for preventing the catastrophic cuts to youth shelter beds proposed by the Mayor. But maintaining 250 beds for 3,800 homeless youths is not a victory, especially for the youth whose lives are endangered as they suffer in the streets without access to shelter. I will continue to work to leverage the voices of the LGBT community, and other impacted communities, to vigorously demand that New York City adopt a plan to provide shelter to every homeless youth.”
The need for youth shelter beds continues to grow; in 2011 alone, the waiting list for AFC’s 77 shelter beds grew to 199 youths – an increase of 40 percent over the prior year. In total, the city only funds 250 shelter beds, for a population of 3,800 homeless youth. In response to this crisis, the Ali Forney Center and a number of allied organizations have launched the Campaign for Youth Shelter. This initiative calls on New York City and State to back an additional $3 million in annual funding, set aside to create 100 new shelter beds every year until no youth shelter has a waiting list.
The Campaign is an effort to leverage the voices of the LGBT community to advocate for homeless youth in light of the fact that LGBT youth make up 40 percent of the homeless youth population in NYC (according to a 2008 survey by the Empire State Coalition), and is organized by providers and advocates representing the Ali Forney Center, Green Chimneys, Empire State Pride Agenda, Queer Rising, Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, Brooklyn Community Pride Center, Stonewall Democratic Cub of NY, and Shelter of Peace.
In June of 2010, the Bloomberg Administration released a report on homeless LGBT youth which recognized that LGBT youths without shelter faced significant risk of violent assault, HIV infection and suicide. The report called for the creation of 100 additional shelter beds for LGBT youths.
The Ali Forney Center (AFC) was started in June of 2002 in response to the lack of safe shelter for LGBT youth in New York City. The Center is committed to providing these young people with safe, dignified, nurturing environments where their needs can be met, and where they can begin to put their lives back together. AFC is dedicated to promoting awareness of the plight of homeless LGBT youth in the United States with the goal of generating responses on local and national levels from government funders, foundations, and the LGBT community. For more information, go to: www.aliforneycenter.org.
Source: Ali Forney Center