NYC Officials Again Demand Shelter for Homeless LGBT Youth
In anticipation of a Monday, Oct. 24, rally in Union Square, the Ali Forney Center has once again called upon Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other state lawmakers to support the Campaign for Youth Shelter. This initiative calls for $3 million per year in funding to create 100 youth shelter beds annually, until all homeless youth in the five boroughs have beds.
"Despite the recession, which caused the waiting lists to balloon at the youth shelters, and despite the 2008 census, which showed that over 4,000 youths were without safe shelter in NYC, the state has progressively eroded its support for homeless youth, recklessly jeopardizing their lives. I think it is deplorable," said Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center. "Currently the city and state only provide 200 youth shelter beds, and that includes the 70 beds the City Council added between ’05 and ’08."
According to Siciliano, the Cuomo administration cut contributions to LGBT youth shelters, providing $1.5 million in the 2011 fiscal year, but only ponied up $750,000 for FY 2012. He noted that Bloomberg had also proposed cutting the city’s homeless youth services funding every year by 50 to 60 percent, but the City Council intervened on their behalf.
Despite the efforts of the Ali Forney Center and other groups, an average of 3,800 youth between the ages of 16 and 24 are without stable housing each night. A census conducted by the Empire State Pride Coalition and released by the City Council in 2008 found that 40 percent of these youth identified as LGBT.
LGBT youth are eight times more likely to be homeless that heterosexual youth-the leading cause for this is family rejection. With gay youth coming out in greater numbers and at an earlier age, this homophobia and rejection force many into homelessness.
"The crisis of LGBT youth homelessness in NYC results from the collision of parental homophobia with unjust political policies," said Siciliano. "The Campaign for Youth Shelter allows the LGBT community to say loud and clear that it is wrong for parents to throw their queer children to the streets, and it is wrong for our elected officials to allow them to stay in the streets without safe shelter."
Neglecting to provide these youth with stable housing and a nurturing environment can lead them to higher levels of physical and sexual assault, substance abuse and mental health disorders, prostitution, higher rates of HIV infection, depressive disorders, and attempted suicide.
Nearly 63 percent of LGBT youth have considered or attempted suicide, as opposed to 29 percent of young people.