January 6, 2011
By: Joe Siegel/TRT Reporter
The Ali Forney Center, which provides housing for homeless LGBT youths in New York City, is experiencing severe financial hardships as a result of city budget reductions.
The facility has had $150,000 in funding pulled by the city, in addition to $300,000 in federal funds, according to Executive Director Carl Siciliano, who called the budget cuts “heartless and stupid.”
“We have kids show up here because they have nowhere else to go,” said Siciliano.
Without a place to live, many LGBT youth resort to drug-dealing, stealing and prostitution in order to survive, all of which “has a much higher cost to the city than providing them with the care that they so desperately need,” said Siciliano.
Siciliano said there was an “enormous gap” between the amount of homeless youth on the streets and the beds and services available to them. 40 percent of those homeless youth are LGBT and many of them rely on drop-in centers to survive, Siciliano noted.
The center was named in honor of Ali Forney, a homeless queer teen who was forced to live on the streets of New York during the 1990s.
Forney was dedicated to the safety of other homeless queer youth; he was a committed HIV prevention worker, and advocated that the NYPD investigate a series of murders of the homeless queer youth he had befriended. Ali became a hero to those who knew him.
In December of 1997, Forney was murdered on the streets. His tragic death called attention to the deplorable conditions for homeless LGBT youth in New York. Ali’s murderer has never been identified.
The center was founded in 2002 and has an annual budget of $3.4 million, and 50 staff members. Ali Forney provides services to over 1,000 LGBT youth every year.
The Ali Forney Day Center in the Chelsea section of Manhattan provides street outreach, case management, primary medical care, HIV testing, mental health assessment and treatment, food and showers, an employment assistance program, and referral to the center’s housing programs.
Ali Forney also offers a scattered-site emergency housing program with sites in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and a Transitional Housing Program which currently offers housing to 20 youths in 4 different sites in Brooklyn and Manhattan. The residents are able to live in a transitional housing program for up to two years, while staff members assist them in maintaining employment and in continuing their education.
Siciliano intends to seek funding from individual donors. A rally is being planned to be held on the steps of City Hall.
“I’m really focusing the majority of my effort on trying to persuade the city not to do this,” Siciliano added. “I want the gay community to be very loud about the fact that it’s wrong to let this happen to our kids.”
For more information, visit the center’s web site at www.aliforneycenter.org.
Filed Under: National News