We encircle our youth with quality services in an LGBTQ-Positive environment. Given the discrimination and harassment that so many of these young adults have faced, they need comprehensive support and encouragement to develop pride and security in their LGBTQ identities. At AFC, we approach each young person with respect and sensitivity – to develop trust first so we can help get their life back on track.
Conveniently located near public transportation in Harlem, the Drop-In Center is where any lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning youth can access food, medical care, mental health services and much more.
With so few beds available for homeless young people, the Drop-In Center is a beacon for homeless LGBTQ youth – allowing them to escape the streets for a safe, warm, supportive environment. At the Drop-In Center, LGBTQ youth can create community with young people who are just like them and access life-and-death services, as well as education, job training and referrals to other services.
The Drop-In Center is also AFC’s central intake location. All youth participate in a full assessment of their acute physical and mental health needs. This thorough intake includes information on their history of care, exposure to abuse, current and past housing situation, alcohol and substance use, emotional well-being, feelings about their LGBTQ identity, HIV risk assessment, food security, exposure to trauma and mental health needs.
In January of 2015 the Drop-In Center became the nation’s first 24-hour drop-in program for homeless LGBTQ youth. Weekend and overnight hours are when LGBTQ homeless youth are most vulnerable and when services aren’t available to them. Our Drop-In Center is the place where LGBTQ youth can come for meals, showers, clothing, HIV support, mental health services, and case management at any time – day or night.
Initial Intake Support
The AFC Outreach Program provides supportive services, and educational programming to homeless, runaway, street-based and at-risk LGBTQ youth ages 16-24. The Outreach Program delivers services across the five boroughs on the streets and in community based organizations.
Our Peer Outreach Educator program is a paid internship for LGBT homeless youth in our programs, giving these young people valuable work experience while easily engaging with street homeless youth and informing them of AFC’s continuum of services.
The AFC Mobile Outreach program operates out of a van, providing services and delivering supplies to LGBTQ homeless and street-based youth in the evenings and on the weekends throughout the five boroughs.
Through this program, we offer:
In addition to services, our mobile outreach program delivers supplies and sustenance to keep LGBTQ young people on the street safe, healthy and warm, including:
The Street-Based Outreach program engages LGBTQ homeless, street-based and runaway youth throughout the five boroughs. The Street Outreach program distributes safer-sex supplies, offers harm-reduction focused HIV/STI prevention information, delivers food and provides referrals to our Drop-in Center and other programs and services.
Our Community-Based Outreach program trains schools, community centers, religious organizations, and other entities that work with LGBTQ youth to ensure that they are providing LGBTQ sensitive care and to increase cultural competence among these providers. This program collaborates with other organizations on best practices and services for this population and participates in several coalitions addressing the needs of homeless, runaway, and street-based youth – representing the unique struggles of LGBTQ young people.
Our Peer Outreach Educator Internship offers an opportunity for AFC clients to support their peers while creating their own work history. Because these youth have themselves once been homeless, they can quickly develop trust and a rapport with other homeless LGBTQ youth. Our Peer Educators inform LGBTQ homeless youth on safer sex practices, coach them on how to reduce HIV/STI transmission, and much more.
Before beginning their internship, Peer Educators participate in an intensive, week-long training to ensure that they are well-equipped to handle whatever situation may arise in the outreach. Upon completion of the internship, Peer Educators are paid a stipend.
For many homeless LGBT youth, our Emergency Housing Program is their first bed since leaving their home. Unlike other crisis shelters, our Emergency Housing Program is hosted in homelike apartments in Queens and Brooklyn complete with nightly home-cooked meals.
AFC has four emergency housing sites with a total of 52 beds. Through patient, consistent support and affirmation, our Emergency Housing Program stabilizes young people and works with them to achieve housing readiness. Depending on the site, the program lasts from 1-6 months, with the hope that emergency housing residents ultimately graduate into the more independent transitional living program.
With so many LGBTQ youth in need of shelter each night, our emergency housing frequently has a waiting list of 200 young people. As a result, unfortunately, youth rarely receive a housing placement the day they see us. For youth 16-20, the wait time is approximately 2 weeks. For young people 21-24, the wait can be as long as 6 months.
AFC has 72 transitional housing beds in shared apartments throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. Young people can reside in our more independent Transitional Housing Programs for up to two years, while they maintain employment, continue their education and prepare for living on their own.
To prepare for moving into a home of their own, all Transitional Housing residents create an in-depth two-year case plan to chart their path to independence. Residents also work with case managers to set long-term educational and vocational goals such as high school equivalency, college enrollment and further employment training. Currently, 77% of our transitional housing residents are in school and 99% are employed.
The program instills accountability in residents to prepare them for independence. Youth are required to open a savings account and work with their case manager to determine how much money they should save each month. Further, all young people attend monthly Learning Independence for Empowerment (LIFE) workshops on various topics to help them become successful adults.
Each resident is paired with a LIFE Coach, a working professional who guides the young person through transitional housing and, ideally, beyond. With no family to rely on, LIFE Coaches often function as a surrogate family, offering a solid touchstone of support for program participants and graduates alike.
Through our ongoing partnership with the Institute for Family Health we offer hormone treatment to our transgender and gender non-conforming clients via our on-site medical clinic. In conjunction with our transgender housing program, this is a vital resource for our transgender clients who are seeking hormone replacement therapy. Many of our clients are obtaining hormones through unsafe methods on the streets or are on lengthy waitlists to begin hormones at other clinics. The Institute works with AFC to ensure that clients obtain hormones in the safest and least expensive fashion.
In the fall of 2015, we opened AFC's first transgender housing program. This 18-bed housing program is located in a safe Brooklyn neighborhood, and provides stabilizing housing for AFC transfemale and transmasculine clients age 16-20 for up to 18 months. This program addresses the specific concrete and emotional needs of our trans clients in a safe, affirming environment. We help connect these clients to the resources needed to become secure, independent adults.
Why is there a separate wish list for transgender clients? Many people are unaware that the kinds of items found on this list are necessities for transgender people. Items which may be luxuries or unfamiliar to cisgender people can be essential to trans people's self-perception or to aid in being gendered correctly during school, work, job interviews, or just while out in the world. Our transgender clients appreciate your support!
(Not affiliated with AFC)
Ali Forney Center - LEAP Program
HRC Rankings (safe employers)
CLICK HERE for NYC-Metro Area Transgender & Non-Conforming (TGNC) Community Resources. (Provided by, Callen Lorde)
The Learning, Employment, Advancement and Placement (LEAP) program, a partnership between the Ali Forney Center and the Center Youth Program at The LGBT Center, is a six month multi-dimensional vocational and educational preparation course for homeless and at-risk homeless LGBTQ youth between the ages of 18 and 24. LEAP helps our most at-risk youth develop skills – and transform them into independent adults.
Nearly 9 out 10 of our youth never completed, aged out or have not been enrolled in school for periods of greater than 30 days. Through LEAP, we offer regular TASC (formerly GED) preparatory courses so that young people can pass the High School Equivalency (HSE) exam.
To participate in job training and placement, youth are assessed and enrolled in a curriculum to prepare them to take the National Work Readiness Credential (NWRC) exam, the gold standard for employability for entry-level jobs. While preparing for the NWRC, youth also learn life skills such as resume prep, budgeting and time management. Youth then move into paid internships at one of our corporate or non-profit partners, developing their employment history. Youth graduate from LEAP when they’ve secured a job.
Through cash incentives, continuous support and mentorship, young people receive the fundamental tools necessary for employment and success later in life.