Dear members of the Shelter of Peace Network and friends of LGBT Homeless Youth,
Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo submitted a budget which left out our homeless youth. The Governor has proposed that the funds for Runaway Homeless Youth remain at current levels, maintaining the drastic cuts from past years, and leaving thousands of young people on the streets. The options for safe and supportive housing have diminished and the crisis has increased. We need more beds and more support.
The Governor’s office has failed to adequately address this crisis. In his state of the State address 2 weeks ago, Governor Cuomo said, “…we simply cannot fail our children”, and yet that is exactly what he has done. He has failed our children.
Let the Governor know we cannot neglect our youth, sign the petition and share it with your communities.
Advocates, activists, community groups and the faith community are pushing back against the budget. Check out coverage of the Campaign for Youth Shelter in the Gay City News, of the Shelter of Peace Network on CNN, and keep posted for a forthcoming piece on the Huffington Post by Rabbi Kleinbaum.
Now, more than ever, it is time for the faith community to rally our members to let the Governor hear our voices loud and clear– we will no longer ignore what has become the tragedy of the Empire State. Our children have been abandoned by their parents, the very people who are supposed to love and care for them the most. Our young people have been ignored by their communities and by decision makers. We of the faith community must step up and show them the loving kindness every one of them deserves, starting with the most basic need, a bed in a safe space.
One simple action we can urge our community members to take is to sign the petition here to the Governor, asking him for the funding for 100 more shelter beds a year until no child is forced to spend a life-threatening night alone on the streets of NYC. Talk to your congregations this weekend, announce the petition and add a link to it on your website.
Now, is the time for the faith based community to step up and be heard. For clergy, many of you had already planned to dedicate your sermon to the LGBT homeless youth of New York City next weekend (January 20 – 22nd). Now, we’re asking all clergy in New York City to tell your congregations about the homeless youth in New York. Educate them. Send them to the Shelter of Peace website. Have them sign the petition and send the message to Albany that we expect our government to take care of the most vulnerable in our society. Remind them that while they are in church, synagogue or their house of worship, there are 4,000 kids out in the cold and wet New York winter.
Only 24 hours after a day full of special tributes to Dr. Martin Luther King, a man of faith and an activist, aren’t we inspired to think about what he might do at this moment in time? Imagine if we had the blessing of having Dr. King in our world today, where might we be now in the continuing fight for equality and justice?
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum
Senior Rabbi, CBST
Rose Ann Hermann
Shelter of Peace Chair