Cuts for NYC Homeless Youths Protested
BY Julie Bolcer
December 22 2010 2:40 PM ET
Advocates for homeless LGBTQ youths gathered at City Hall in New York City on Tuesday to denounce proposed cuts that would disproportionately hurt one of the city’s most vulnerable populations.
Elected officials, service providers, and homeless youths attended the afternoon press conference hosted by New York City council assistant majority leader Lew Fidler and the Ali Forney Center, which provides services to homeless LGBTQ youths.
In freezing and windy winter weather, they decried the proposal last month by the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development to cut drop-in and stretch outreach services in response to city and state budget cutbacks.
“The day after Thanksgiving, the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development announced major cuts to runaway homeless youth programs,” said Ali Forney Center executive director Carl Siciliano in a news release. “In this fiscal year they are reducing their support for street outreach by 50% and eliminating it next July. This year they are reducing their support for DYCD-funded homeless youth drop-in centers by 33% and City Council-funded homeless youth drop-in centers by 50%.
“In New York City, there currently exists a tremendous shortage of shelter and supportive services for homeless youth,” he continued. “A City Council-funded census of homeless youth in 2008 found that every night 3,800 youth sleep on the streets, in large part because there are fewer than 300 shelter beds available to them. For the youths struggling to survive on the streets, the street outreach and drop-in services are their lifeline. Cutting these services will leave youths stranded on the streets without support, and will force more youths to survive through prostitution and drug dealing.”
As many as 40% of the homeless youths in New York City, most of whom are young people of color, are believed to be LGBTQ. That grim statistic prompted Mayor Michael Bloomberg to appoint a 25-member commission last year to address their predicament. In its final report, the commission called for expanded drop-in center hours and street outreach, which may now be slashed.
DYCD has defended the proposed cuts as the least awful option among a range of painful choices before the agency. The agency notes that it was able to spare services for runaway and homeless youths in eight previous rounds of budget reductions.
Elected officials including city council speaker Christine Quinn have raised the possibility of alternative savings measures in order to avoid making the cuts.
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