Friday, May 1, 2009

Over 1,000 LGBT homeless youth in New York

Budget Beefs of Youth Advocates
Schindler, Paul. Gay City News, April 2, 2009.

With a recent city census finding that more than 1,000 LGBT youth are homeless in New York and often have to spend the night on the streets, advocates for that population are expressing concerns about a number of budget cuts that could reduce services and even the scarce supply of emergency and transitional beds available.

Green Chimneys, which currently provides 20 of the roughly 100 beds available citywide to homeless youth in settings specifically tailored to provide a safe space for queer youth, is at risk of losing half of that total because of funding cuts at the city Department of Youth and Community Development. DYCD informed Green Chimneys its contract funding those ten beds would not be renewed in the fiscal year beginning July 1, leaving the agency with only state money that pays for the other ten beds.

However, according to Theresa Nolan, a senior staffer at Green Chimneys, the agency has now learned that additional state money going to DYCD might enable it to retain funding for as many as seven of the beds it risked losing.

In the Bronx, the lack of a contract renewal is likely to prove more problematic. For the past three years, the Bronx Community Pride Center, an LGBT-focused facility on East 149th Street, has been the designated borough drop-in center for homeless youth of all backgrounds, receiving funding of $300,000 annually.

According to Lisa Winters, during that period, the Pride Center has experienced about 16,000 youth visits, provided crisis referral and intensive case management to more than 700 youth, LGBT and straight from the Bronx and Upper Manhattan, served more than 5,000 meals, and tested more than 500 for HIV, identifying 29 positive clients.

The loss of the city contract eliminates a quarter of the Pride Center's $1.2 million budget and eliminates its entire youth-specific programming.

Though the Pride Center had received Very Good ratings in each of three annual city audits, it lost out in this year's competitive bidding to Cardinal McCloskey Services, a large social services agency that works in the Bronx, Westchester, and Rockland.

Though it is ostensibly non-sectarian, Cardinal McCloskey obviously has a Catholic background, and its website describes its mission in "support[ing] the sanctity of the family." Winters noted that statement, and said that the Catholic Church's historic hostility to LGBT people would disenfranchise many Pride Center clients.

"My kids won't go to Cardinal McCloskey," she warned.

Ryan Dodge, a spokesman for DYCD, noted that Cardinal McCloskey specifically wrote about serving LGBT youth in its proposal, and added that the Pride Center's loss of the contract was no reflection of the quality of the program it has run.

In Manhattan, Sylvia's Place, the homeless LGBT youth program of the Metropolitan Community Church in Midtown, lost out in its effort to be designated as the Manhattan homeless youth drop-in center.

That contract, which has been held by the Streetwork program run by Safe Horizon, will now go to the Door. Arguing that the Door is not specifically geared to LGBT youth, Lucky Michaels, who directs MCC's Homeless Youth Services, said the Soho agency offered a "warehousing approach" to meeting youth needs.

Other advocates, however, note that the Door has long worked effectively with queer youth among its population.

Michaels said that without the drop-in center contract, Sylvia's Place might not be able to continue providing all 26 overnight spots that it currently offers.
MCC staged a protest in City Hall Park on March 31, where it was joined by homeless youth advocates including Carmen Quinones from Green Chimneys, Nancy Downing from Covenant House, and Margo Hirsch from the Empire State Coalition of Youth and Family Services.

The largest provider of housing for homeless LGBT youth, the Ali Forney Center, meanwhile, announced this week that it is receiving new DYCD and state Department of Health funding of $400,000 in 2009, bringing its total annual budget to $4.3 million. The group added 18 beds this year, and now provides 48 slots - 24 for emergency housing, and the other half for transitional living aimed at preparing youth to find permanent housing on their own

1 comment:

"Jennynyc" said...

What a great blog and post. I work with a lot of foster children as a social worker and am a lesbian myself.