Saturday, November 03, 2012

Hurriane Sandy Leaves NYC's Ali Forney Center for HomelessGBT Youth Severely Damaged

As noted in previous posts, it is estimated that up to 40% of homeless youths are LGBT individuals.  Many have been disowned by their "godly Christian" parents and/or, parents who, in my view, are more concerned about their own personal embarrassment at having an LGBT child than about the welfare of their own children.  One city where many such homeless youth gravitate is New York City, a city with far too few resources to help these youths.  One bright spot that was available for them are the Ali Forney Center facilities.  Sadly, as the Washington Blade is reporting, the Ali Forney Center drop off facility for the most vulnerable youth - like so many properties and facilities in New York and New Jersey - suffered severe damage in Hurricane Sandy.  The Center is soliciting donations to help repair the facility and prepare it to once again provide critical services.  Here is how the condition has been described:  

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.

I hope that readers will consider making a donation via the Center's website.  The boyfriend and I are doing so.  Here are highlights from the Blade story:

Superstorm Sandy’s record storm surge on Oct. 29 inundated a New York City drop-in center for homeless youth.  Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, told the Washington Blade earlier on Saturday the storm left up to four feet of water from the nearby Hudson River in the facility on West 22nd Street in Manhattan’s West Chelsea neighborhood. 

The water has since receded, but Siciliano said the storm surge “decimated” the drop-in center.  “Everything is destroyed — all of the electricity in the place, the floors, the computers, the laptops, the phones, files, all the furniture,” he said. “Everything is just destroyed. The refrigerator was floating and knocked over, all the food was out. The space is uninhabitable.”

“It’s going to be some months before we’re able to be in there so we’re going to have to really scramble to figure out a way to work with these kids,” said Siciliano. “The kids that come into that space are like our most vulnerable kids. They’re the ones who are out on the streets with nowhere to go. And that program’s really a lifeline for them. They get food and clothing and showers and bathroom facilities, medical care [and] HIV testing. It’s kind of our triage place in the city for kids who are chucked out on the streets.”

Siciliano said he has spoken with officials at the White House, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and both New York City Council Christine Quinn’s and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s offices. The Ali Forney Center is also accepting donations on its website to continue its outreach and advocacy efforts.

“There are so many problems that I have to deal with all the time with these kids, but I never did really think in my mind about catastrophic flooding,” said Siciliano. “That’s definitely a new level of things to be concerned about.”

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