NEW YORK, NY - July 5, 2011 - The New York City Council has restored $7,170,000 of funds for Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs in the budget agreement with the Mayor that was reached this week. Following a cut of $7.3 million proposed by Mayor Bloomberg, the restoration negotiated by the City Council has prevented the loss of numerous beds and support services. LGBT youth, who make up 40% of New York City's homeless youth population, would have been disproportionately harmed had these restorations not been achieved.
Carl Siciliano, Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center, said: "The budget proposed by the Mayor, following a 50% cut in state support, would have devastated the meager infrastructure of support for our youth. Hundreds of shelter beds would have been lost, and countless young lives would have been endangered. I am deeply grateful to City Council Youth Services Chair Lew Fidler for his determined and passionate advocacy for homeless youth, and to Speaker Christine Quinn for her steadfast support. In the context of a very difficult budgetary climate, this is a terrific victory for our youth "
The total amount of funding dedicated to Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs in the new budget is approximately $12 million, about $150,000 less than in last year's budget. A census of homeless youth in New York City was released by the Empire State Coalition of Youth and Family Services in 2008, which indicated that almost 4,000 youth experience homelessness in New York City, over 1,000 of whom are LGBT. There are currently fewer than 400 youth shelter beds in New York City.
The restoration of funding follows the June 24 launch of a campaign to unite the LGBT community in calling on New York City and New York State to commit to providing shelter to every homeless youth In New York City. The campaign was launched by the Ali Forney Center, in collaboration with other LGBT organizations including the Empire State Pride Agenda, Green Chimneys, Bronx Pride Center, and Congregation Beit Simchat Torah.
The Ali Forney Center (AFC) was started in June of 2002 in response to the lack of safe shelter for LGBT youth in New York City. The Center is committed to providing these young people with safe, dignified, nurturing environments where their needs can be met, and where they can begin to put their lives back together. AFC is dedicated to promoting awareness of the plight of homeless LGBT youth in the United States with the goal of generating responses on local and national levels from government funders, foundations, and the LGBT community.