New York’s Campaign for Youth Shelter Demands Funding for LGBT Homeless

The Campaign for Youth Shelter, a coalition of LGBT providers and advocates, 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. The Campaign calls for the city to raise its Runaway and Homeless Youth Services budget from the recently-announced $5 million to $13.5 million, both revoking the Mayor’s proposed $7 million cuts and including the city’s half of the annual $3 million.

New York City currently has a budget of $12 million for Runaway and Homeless Youth Services, and provides only 250 youth shelter beds. In 2008 the New York City Council released the results of a census of New York City’s homeless youth, which found there were 3,800 youths without shelter. Mayor Bloomberg has attempted to cut funds from homeless youth services every year since the census was released, and has failed to articulate a plan for the provision of adequate shelter for the NYC’s homeless youth.

“Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to cut $7 million from homeless youth services is reckless and reprehensible,” said Carl Siciliano, Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center. “His proposal would eliminate youth shelter beds at a time when the unmet need is enormous, and would endanger the lives of our most vulnerable youth. Every child needs and deserves shelter, and the homeless youth of our City need and deserve a mayor who won’t leave them to suffer in the streets.”

LGBT youth make up 40% of NYC’s homeless youth population, and are at escalated risk for violent assaults, HIV infection, and suicide when left out on the streets. According to the U.S. Justice Department, one in three homeless teens that are on the street will be forced into prostitution within 48 hours.

By choosing not to dedicate adequate funding, state and city lawmakers are exposing LGBTQ runaway and homeless youth to a host of risks and health and human service disparities. Several studies cited in the Report of the New York City Mayoral Commission for LGBTQ Runaway and Homeless Youth, released by DYCD in June 2010, found that:

  • LGBTQ youth face significantly greater incidents of physical and sexual assault than heterosexual youth.
  • LGBTQ youth experience greater incidents of substance abuse and mental health disorders.
  • As many homeless LGBTQ youth are forced to resort to prostitution to survive, recent studies have indicated that approximately 20% of NYC’s homeless LGBTQ youth become infected with HIV.
  • Depressive disorders disproportionately impact LGBTQ youth, with 63% of LGBTQ youth having considered or attempted suicide compared with 29% of heterosexual youth who indicated the same.

More information on the Campaign for Youth Shelter is available here.

Source: Ali Forney Center

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