By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com May 04 2012 1:22 PM ET
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's newly released budget is getting sharp criticism from LGBT activists. The budget reportedly cuts $7 million to the city’s Runaway and Homeless Youth Services, which would eliminate 160 youth shelter beds and drastically affect the Ali Forney Center, the city's LGBT youth shelter.
“Mayor Bloomberg's plan to throw 160 homeless children out of their shelter beds and into the streets is cruel, reckless, and contemptible," said Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center. "These cuts create an even bigger crisis for the LGBT teens who are thrown out of their homes and forced to endure homelessness on the streets of our city. The LGBT community needs and demands political leaders who will protect our children. Instead, Mayor Bloomberg has proposed eliminating more than half of their shelter beds. The Ali Forney Center and all those who work with and care about LGBT homeless youth will not be silent in the face of this decision, which offends us as a community and needlessly puts our young people in harm's way.”
According to Siciliano, the need for youth shelter beds has continued to rise and last year alone the waiting list for Ali Forney Center grew 40%. The organization says there are 4,000 homeless youth in New York City — many of them LGBT — and only 250 shelter beds available.
The Ali Forney Center and a number of allied LGBT organizations have launched the Campaign for Youth Shelter, which urges city and state leaders to come up with $3 million in annual funding to create 100 new shelter beds every year.
Siciliano wants the Bloomberg to revoke today's cuts to the budget for homeless youth services immediately.
Ironically, the Bloomberg administration released a report in 2010 that recognized that LGBT youth without shelter faced significant risk of violent assault, HIV infection, and suicide. The report called for the creation of 100 additional shelter beds for LGBT young people.