There’s a moment in this video – produced by David Raleigh The Friends Project – where Carl Siciliano, founder and executive director of the Ali Forney Center, says: “Ali’s death shaped me more than anything in my life.”
Tuesday, April 12, would have marked the 36th birthday for the LGBT homeless youth whose life and death wound up making a huge difference in the lives of others. But the Ali Forney Center is now facing the possibility of eliminating a number of beds in its unique shelter for homeless youth as a result of the proposed budget cuts suggested in Gov. Cuomo’s budget. For more on Ali Forney and the center he inspired, please watch this video and please read more in the press release below.
The press release from the Ali Forney Center:
NEW YORK – April 11, 2011 – On Tuesday, April 12th, the Ali Forney Center – New York City’s largest shelter for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) homeless youth – will mark what would have been the 36th birthday of its namesake, Ali Forney.
When Ali was 13, he was put out of his home for being gay, becoming one of the many thousands of LGBT teens who have been forced to endure homelessness after being rejected by their parents. Ali lived on the streets of New York City in dangerous and atrocious conditions, without access to adequate services and was murdered on the streets at the age of 22. Despite the hardships he faced, Ali was a tireless advocate for the safety of his fellow homeless youth, and a dedicated HIV prevention worker.
Ali’s life and death inspired the founding of the Ali Forney Center (AFC), which has grown to become the nation’s largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth. The Center provides not only shelter beds for these youth, but also a comprehensive range of services including vocational training, education and job assistance, and substance abuse treatment.
Unfortunately, in 2011, the Center continues to face great obstacles to its efforts to provide safe housing for LGBT youth. The most recent budget put forth by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature would cut funding for homeless youth services by 50 percent, from $4.7 million to $2.35 million – potentially forcing the Center to close a number of its shelter beds and put vulnerable youth on the street. In January, a similar city-level budget cut to homeless youth services, proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was averted following a successful protest in which the AFC took a leading role.
Said Carl Siciliano, founder and executive director of the AFC: “As Ali’s story makes starkly clear, the ability of homeless LGBT youth to access safe shelter and housing is a matter of life and death. Of the tens of thousands of LGBT youth who suffer homelessness in our county, fewer than 200 have safe shelter on any given night. The Center honors Ali’s legacy by ensuring that more of these youth receive the shelter and services they so desperately need – and we will continue to fight back against those who would force them back onto the streets in the name of fiscal conservatism.”
The Ali Forney Center’s mission is to help homeless LGBT youth be safe and become independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood. Too many of these youth are rejected by their families and the broader community, and are thus forced to survive on the streets, facing the dangers of violence, HIV infection and homophobia. AFC is committed to providing homeless LGBT youth with the services they need to thrive, including shelter, HIV prevention and vocational training. For more information, go to http://www.aliforneycenter.org.