If Governor Cuomo was not aware that there are over 4,000 homeless youth on the streets of New York City every night and that the State of New York contributes a meager $744, 000 annually (enough to fund 21 shelter beds for 1 year) I would be disappointed. But, I personally spent 45 minutes on the phone last Friday with the Governor’s representatives and the campaign for youth shelter steering committee discussing these exact numbers and the need for the State to add at least 1.5 million dollars to the budget for homeless youth shelter. We were told that they understand the moral imperative and the financial reasons for adding funding in the new budget and would discuss them with the Governor. A Governor, who I might add, said in his state of the state last week that “we simply cannot fail our children”. Well Governor, these are our children and you have failed them.
The Governor had a great opportunity to take a leadership role and make a positive statement about his commitment to the thousands of homeless children on our streets and instead he has shown us how little we can count on what he says. Governor, we needed your action not your words. You have failed us and failed the homeless youth.
Now, it is time for the faith based community to step up and be heard. 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, I’m 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. Be sure to include the Weather Report at the end on every sermon you give. Remind them that while they are in Church or Synagogue or other house of worship there are 4,000 kids out in the cold and wet environment of the New York winter.
Don’t be silent. Yesterday we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. What do you think he would say and do if he were here today?
Please, take action. Do not be silent.