Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New York City Funding Refusal Threatens Welfare of Thousands of Homeless LGBTQ Youth

The following is a press release from Sylvia's Place:

The New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) has failed to consider $253,718 in funding for Sylvia’s Place, a project of MCCNY Homeless Youth Services, thus jeopardizing the welfare of over 1,000 homeless and runaway LGBTQ youth in the coming year who would rely on Sylvia’s Place services.

The refusal follows DYCD claims that all Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) Drop-In Center proposals in Manhattan had been eliminated from consideration for funding in fiscal year 2010. DYCD also rejected a continued funding request from Bronx Community Pride Center, who has also been offering DYCD-funded drop-in services to LGBTQ youth for the past four years. DYCD slashed funding by 2/3 for Green Chimneys, which operates a transitional housing program for LGBT youth. DYCD also severely cut funds for Safe Horizon's Streetworks Lower East Side and Streetworks Overnight, which serve 35%-40% LGBTQ youth.

"In 2008, Ali Forney Center, which provides drop-in services to LGBTQ youth from its facilities in Chelsea, was subject to a similar funding refusal by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene," said MCCNY Charities Executive Director William Morán-Berberena.

MCCNY Homeless Youth Services operates Sylvia’s Place, which currently provides 1/3 of the city’s existing beds for LGBTQ homeless and runaway youth, who face harassment, violence and discrimination at mainstream shelters. Without DYCD funding, the LGBTQ youth waiting on transitional beds at the Ali Forney Center and Green Chimneys—a process which can take a long time—will be forced back to the streets.

“Losing contact with at-risk youth will mean that we will be unable to locate them when their names come up on months-long waiting lists,” said MCCNY Homeless Youth Services Director Lucky S. Michaels. “We will also be unable to ensure that the youth receive the services—food, medical care, and shelter—they need, and the assistance they require to avoid future interactions with law enforcement.”

Of the nearly 3.800 youth who are homeless in New York City every night, over 1080 identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to a 2007 study by the Empire State Coalition of Youth and Family Services. Sylvia’s Place currently houses 26 of the only 75 beds for LGBTQ homeless youth in the city.

“Without DYCD funding for drop-in centers in Manhattan, all Sylvia’s Place’s programs are at great risk of closing, reducing the LGBTQ bed per client ration to well below 2007 levels.,” said the Reverend Pat Bumgardner, Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of New York.

"The recurrence of these city funding refusals to LGBTQ-specific social service organizations brings into question not only the welfare of the City’s LGBTQ community but also the willingness of city agencies to protect LGBTQ New Yorkers," said Morán-Berberena.

Tell the DYCD and City Council that the futures of LGBTQ homeless youth matter! Forward this message to your press and network contacts and get the word out that LGBTQ youth are at risk of losing vital services!


Daniel Symon, DYCD Chief Contracting Officer

Jeanne B. Mullgrav, Commissioner DYCD

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