Amid the many cuts in state and city budgets for Runaway and Homeless Youth Services over the past several years, it seems the best news we have had to relate has been that some of this funding had been partially or wholly restored. However, tonight I would like to share some exciting good news that represents a true step forward for the homeless LGBT youth of New York City. This morning, July 9, the City Council, under the leadership of Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer announced that they have allocated $3.3 million in funding to The Ali Forney Center, New York City’s largest shelter serving the needs of runaway and homeless LGBT youth. The funding is being provided for the renovation of a City-owned building at 222 East 13th Street, converting it into an 18-bed residential facility. The facility is to be named the Bea Arthur Residence for Homeless LGBT Youth.
Bea Arthur, the famed star of stage and of such television hits as Maude and The Golden Girls, was a long-time supporter of The Ali Forney Center. Ms. Arthur bequeathed $300,000 to the Center in her will when she passed away in 2009, so it is extremely fitting that the new facility is to be named in her memory.
Carl Siciliano, Executive Director and founder of The Ali Forney Center, was quoted in an article in The Advocate as saying: “Homeless LGBT youth, most of whom have been cast out of their homes, have faced the worst kind of cruelty and rejection. I am overwhelmed with gratitude that they [are] now being shown such kindness by this community and its leaders.” Mr. Siciliano is being honored at the White House on July 12 for his work on behalf of homeless LGBT youth.
Shelter of Peace would like to express its gratitude to Council Speaker Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Stringer, and all the members of the New York City Council for taking this historic step towards ending LGBT youth homelessness.