We, the undersigned members, supporters, and organizations of New York’s lesbian, gay, bisexualm transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community, call upon Governor Cuomo, the New York State Legislature, and Mayor Bloomberg to support the Campaign for Youth Shelter which seeks to create 100 youth shelter beds per year, until such time when no runaway or homeless young person in New York City is forced to sleep on the streets due to a lack of available shelter beds. This year, we request that the state restore the level of funding for Runaway and Homeless Youth services to $4.7 million, with at least $2.25 million of that amount to be allocated to youth shelters in New York City, where the need is greatest. This level of funding would be $1.5 million more than the $745,000 the city received from the state in last year’s budget.
A census conducted by the Empire State Coalition and released by the New York City Council in 2008 found that every night 3,800 unaccompanied youths between the ages of 16 and 24 were without stable housing and were at great risk of homelessness. Yet funding from the city and the state combined only provides fewer than 200 beds for all homeless youth. Last year, New York State reduced funding for runaway and homeless youth to $2.35 million – a 50% reduction. In a time when the need has never been greater, each shelter bed is a priceless commodity that should not be eliminated. We understand that the current economic climate presents New York with tough choices, but balancing the budget on the backs of New York’s most vulnerable citizens is an unfair and inadequate response to a growing crisis faced by our youth.
The lack of safe and supportive housing for homeless youth in New York State is a matter of urgent concern for the LGBTQ community in particular.
The City Council’s report found that 40% of the 3,800 homeless youth - over 1,600 - identified as LGBTQ. LGBTQ youth are eight times more likely to experience homelessness than heterosexual youth. The leading cause of homelessness for LGBTQ youth is family rejection. Family rejection is one of the most terrible expressions of homophobia and transphobia in our times. As LGBTQ youth come out in greater numbers and at earlier ages, a significant percentage are denied the love and support of their families, forcing many into homelessness and destitution.
By choosing not to dedicate adequate funding, state and city lawmakers are exposing LGBTQ runaway and homeless youth to a host of risks and health and human service disparities. Several studies cited in the Report of the New York City Mayoral Commission for LGBTQ Runaway and Homeless Youth, released by DYCD in June 2010, found that:
In addition to being a failed health policy that endangers the health and well-being of runaway and homeless youth, New York’s inadequate response is also fiscally irresponsible.
The cost to taxpayers of providing homeless youth with beds in shelters today is far less than the cost of providing those same individuals with beds in hospitals or prisons in the future. Youth who are left to fend for themselves on the streets often engage in criminal activity, drug use and prostitution, which puts them at risk of arrest and exposes them and others to HIV and other communicable diseases.
With fewer than 250 beds available for roughly 3,800 homeless youth, New York City and New York State are failing to adequately to address the glaring lack of shelter for our young people. By restoring the funding for runaway and homeless youth shelters that was cut from last year’s budget, we can begin to develop the response that this crisis truly calls for.
Ali Forney Center
Brooklyn Community Pride Center
Bronx Community Pride Center
Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats
Congregation Beit Simchat Torah
Empire State Coalition
Empire State Pride Agenda
Gay Men of African Descent
Gay and Lesbian Democrats of Queens
Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats
Get EQUAL NY/NJ
Green Chimneys NYC
Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
Jim Owles Gay and Lesbian Democratic Club
Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn
Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens
Members of Connecting Rainbows
New Kings Democrats
New York Association for Gender Rights (NYAGRA)
New York City Anti-Violence Project
Queens Pride House
StreetWork Project of Safe Horizons
Stonewall Democratic Club of NYC
The LGBT Community Center of NYC
The LOFT: LGBT Community Center
The Trevor Project
Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF)
Michael Burke, Brooklyn Community Pride Center
Dan Campanelli, President, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats
Lt. Dan Choi
Chap James Day, Provincial Coordinator, Intergrity USA
Lew Fidler, New York City Council Member
Louis Flores, Connecting Rainbows
Rev. Jude Geiger, First Unitarian Universalist Society in Brooklyn
Tish James, New York City Council
Joe Jervis, Joemygod
Corey Johnson, Chairman, Manhattan Community Board 4
Rev . Ann M. Kansfield
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah
Brad Lander, New York City Council
Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of our Lives
Rev. Jacqueline Lewis, Middle Collegiate Church
Cathy Marino-Thomas, MENY
Cathy McElrath Renna
Leah McElrath Renna
Rich Murray, MENY
Chris Owens, District Leader, 52nd A.D.
Dr. Wilhemina Perry, LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent
Lincoln Restler, Democratic District Leader, 50th A.D.
Jo Anne Simon
Kai Wright, Editorial Director, Colorlines
Tobias Barrington Wolff, Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School
Ron Zacchi, MENY