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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 25, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 12
Section One
ALL STORIES
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LGBT homeless youth in NYC outraged by possible budget cuts

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

According to an analysis by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, the proposed budget cuts by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo would drastically reduce support from New York State for homeless youth, with 37 shelter beds for youth facing closure. Currently, New York State and New York City combine funds to support 108 youth shelter beds, even though a recent census indicated that over 3,000 youth are without shelter every night.

The governor's budget proposal of a new Primary Prevention Incentive Program (PPIP) would consolidate a variety of child welfare, juvenile justice, and youth development programs into a competitive block grant. This proposal eliminates $85 million in existing youth and family services to create the new PPIP block grant, to be funded at $35 million. The grant will be allocated to local social services districts on a competitive basis forcing different localities to compete for vastly reduced funds for the protection of disadvantaged youth. State funds previously dedicated to homeless youth would be eliminated.

LGBT youth suffering homelessness would be disproportionately harmed by these cuts. LGBT youth comprise 40% of the homeless youth population of New York City, and according to a 2007 census commissioned by the New York City Council; over 1,000 LGBT youth are without shelter every night. Homeless LGBT youth without shelter often are forced to resort to prostitution in order to survive, and approximately 20% become HIV infected. Homeless LGBT youth are at extraordinary risk of suicide, with 62% admitting to having considered or attempted suicide.

'I can only hope that the Cuomo administration, in proposing these cuts, did not understand their impact on homeless youth,' said Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center. 'It is unimaginable to me that the governor would find it acceptable to throw homeless kids out of shelter beds, abandoning them to the streets to resolve a budget crisis. With so many youth's lives at risk as they suffer on the streets waiting for shelter, we cannot give up even one bed. I am confident that the LGBT community will join us in letting the governor know that we cannot tolerate such inhumane mistreatment of our most vulnerable youth.'

The Ali Forney Center (AFC), the nation's largest LGBT youth homeless services center, is gathering support from the New York LGBT community and its allies. Change.org, an online petition site that works to promote progressive laws and corporate policies, as well as to make communities healthier, safer, and more equitable, recently posted a petition protesting the proposed cuts, which has garnered nearly 13,000 signatures. The petition can be viewed here:

http://www.change.org/#search/ali%20forney%20center

AFC will continue to actively engage all those who care about homeless LGBT youth in a variety of ways, including through online organizing and in-person advocacy in Albany. Last week, AFC sent a busload of youth and advocates to speak with their representatives about the impending crisis if these budget cuts are implemented.

The Ali Forney Center's mission is to help homeless LGBT youth be safe and become independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood. Too many of these youth are rejected by their families and the broader community, and are thus forced to survive on the streets, facing the dangers of violence, HIV infection, and homophobia. AFC is committed to providing homeless LGBT youth with the services they need to thrive, including shelter, HIV prevention, and vocational training. For more information, go to www.aliforneycenter.org.

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