First 24-Hour Service for Homeless Youth

New York's Ali Forney Center makes a big announcement for 2012

Photos courtesy of Ali Forney Center

The plight of LGBT homelessness among young people in the community is certainly no secret. And now for the first time ever, The Ali Forney Center, the nation’s largest organization working on behalf of homeless LGBT youth, says it will begin offering 24-hour services thanks to a grant. The center has been awarded a two-year matching $500K Challenge Grant from the Calamus Foundation of New York.

“The Ali Forney Center is thrilled to kick off our 10th Anniversary year by opening a services center available to youth at any times of the day or night,” says Carl Siciliano, Ali Forney Center’s executive director. “This facility will help address one of our major concerns, the growing number of homeless LGBT youth on the center’s waiting list who resort to sleeping on park benches and subway cars, and must engage in high-risk behavior to survive.”

This year, Calamus Foundation pledges to match all donations made by new donors or increased donations made by existing donors dollar for dollar up to $250,000. Next year, the foundation will award one dollar for every two dollars donated by new or increased donors up to $250,000. The foundation will also match new corporate and other foundation revenue, allowing the center to be the first with 24-hour service specifically for homeless LGBT youth.

“This summer, when our waiting list reached 200 names, I became increasingly concerned about the limited number of shelter beds and drop-in service hours available,” explains Siciliano. “For many years, we recognized the need for 24-hour services, but due to limited funding and to prioritizing funding shelter beds, we could never build this on our own.”

Carl Siciliano

The new 24-hour services center will be available seven days a week, and will offer homeless LGBT youth support and vital services through the client-centered service model for which the center is known. Services will include crisis and suicide intervention, appointments with medical and mental health professionals, and substance abuse counseling, as well as career and education counseling with the goal of helping youth reclaim their lives. The drop-in center will also provide for basic needs such as food, water, access to showers, laundry and new clothing. The Ali Forney Center is currently in the planning phase of this project and is searching for a facility to house the new center. They hope to have the program operational by the fourth quarter of 2012.

“The plight of homeless LGBT youth has reached a crisis level,” says Louis Bradbury, board president of the Calamus Foundation  “It is critical that our community address this issue. …We must also recognize that the problem is so vast that it requires governmental leadership, as well as funding from our community. Private support cannot replace government funding; the need is too great. However, by providing this challenge grant, we hope to increase awareness of the issues and to encourage other member of the community and foundations to become involved.”