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Hurricane Sandy Destroys NYC Homeless LGBT Youth Drop-In Center

by David Badash on November 4, 2012

in News

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All the world knows that Hurricane Sandy hit the New Jersey/New York City metro area the hardest, killing an estimated 113 people — including over 40 people in New York City alone — displacing hundreds of thousands, and putting millions into darkness. Then the cold came.

All the world also knows that LGBTQ kids and teens are always the hardest hit as well — sometimes, literally — by members of their own families. And often, sadly, if it’s not physical abuse LGBTQ kids and teens face from within their own families, it’s emotional abuse. Or, often, both.

40% of homeless teens are LGBTQ, a staggering percent, given that an estimated 3.4% of adults are LGBT. Literally, if you’re an LGBTQ teen, your chance of being on the street is ten times higher, at least.

Superstorm Sandy decimated the Ali Forney Center on the West Side of Manhattan. They describe it as “uninhabitable.”

The Ali Forney Center’s mission “is to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) youth from the harm of homelessness, and to support them in becoming safe and independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood.”

There are few more urgent and necessary non-profits to support.

The Ali Forney Center’s Executive Director, Carl Siciliano explains:

 

Dear Friends,

Yesterday we were finally able to inspect our drop-in center in Chelsea, half a block from the Hudson River. Our worst fears were realized; everything was destroyed and the space is uninhabitable. The water level went four feet high, destroying our phones, computers, refrigerator, food and supplies.

This is a terrible tragedy for the homeless LGBT youth we serve there. This space was dedicated to our most vulnerable kids, the thousands stranded on the streets without shelter, and was a place where they received food, showers, clothing, medical care, HIV testing and treatment, and mental health and substance abuse services. Basically a lifeline for LGBT kids whose lives are in danger.

We are currently scrambling for a plan to provide care to these desperate kids while we prepare to ultimately move into a larger space that will better meet our needs. The NYC LGBT Center has very kindly and generously offered to let us temporarily use some of their space, and we hope to determine the viability of that on Monday.

We have been deluged with kind offers from people who wish to volunteer and donate goods. Unfortunately, we will have to provide our services in the time being in much smaller spaces that won’t accommodate volunteers or allow for much storage space. The best way people can reach out to help in this very challenging time is by making monetary donations. Please go to our website at www.aliforneycenter.org/hurricanesandy

It is heartbreaking to see this space come to such a sad end. For the past seven years it has been a place of refuge to thousands of kids reeling from being thrown away by their parents for being LGBT. For many of these kids coming to our drop-in center provided  their first encounter with a loving and affirming LGBT community. I thank all of you for your care and support in a most difficult time.

- Carl Siciliano

No doubt, as readers of The New Civil Rights Movement, you’ve donated what you can to victims of Hurricane Sandy. No doubt, you’ve dropped more than a few bucks on various relief and charitable efforts throughout the year. That’s because people concerned with social justice, equality, and the common good are just likely to want to help others.

But I’m asking, if there’s any way you can help these kids, during what is arguably the worst moment in their lives — homeless, with now no where to go, in the wake of a brutal hurricane that hit this area of the country the hardest — well, all I can do is ask.

Please, give what you can.

You can donate to the Ali Forney Center’s Hurricane Sandy drive via their website, or send a check to:

Ali Forney Center/ATTN: Andria Ottley
224 West 35th St
Suite 1500
NY, NY 10001

Thank you.

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