The prestigious and legendary Ali Forney Center in New York City has been a safe place for homeless LGBT youth for years. They have dozens of beds for the young people, many kicked out of their homes for being a LGBT youth. In addition, it is a place in which they can seek counseling, a shower, a place to read, use a computer or just feel safe from the horror of being young and homeless in New York City.
The day after Thanksgiving the city of New York notified the Ali Forney Center that because of our economic times they would be cut by $143,000. Other outreach centers for LGBT youth also were being cut including the Bronx Community Pride Center which is losing 50% of its funding. There is a real crisis in this city with homeless LGBT youth. There are an estimated 1,500 LGBT youth homeless on any given night in this massive city. These young people often have been rejected by their families, their communities and off their spiritual base.
Considering the current epidemic of young suicides, it is not the time to balance the city's budget on the back of our young people. They are the most vulnerable and most helpless in these very challenging times for our community. Executive Director Carl Siciliano of the Ali Forney Center said of the cuts,
"These cuts will devastate kids who are hanging on by a thread, struggling to survive alone on the streets. More youths will turn to drugs and prostitution, more will become HIV infected, and more will attempt suicide. I cannot believe that the City of New York would be so neglectful of the most basic welfare of hurt and vulnerable children"Dirk McCall who is CEOfor the Bronx Community Pride Center said:
"It is horrifying that these proposed cuts to programs serving the most vulnerable youth in NYC come on Thanksgiving. These service reductions immediately follow the issuance of a report by the City highlighting the need for these programs and calling for their expansion. We all appreciate the budget and the need to contain costs, but cutting these programs and leaving LGBTQ runaway and homeless youth out on the street and with no pathway back to productivity is cruel. I hope the NYC Council, Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Mullgrew are able to find ways to restore these critically important funds."In many ways, the entire struggle for our freedom and full equality is so that another generation will not have to experience the tears, suffering and pain of our past journey. They are our future and our hope. With their rejections from their families and friends, we all have become their guardians. We cannot become so absorbed in our everyday battle for freedom that we fail to protect our young ones that are around us today.
Please don't sit quietly while they attempt to balance the budget our the backs of our young people. E-mail (EBottcher@council.nyc.gov )City Council President Christine Quinn and offer your support and resources as she attempts to protect the funds and most certainly e-mail Mayor Michael Bloomberg and let him know this is totally unacceptable.
Finally, this Christmas make a donation now to the Ali Forney Center or The Bronx Community Pride Center or to both to help out in this crisis.
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