Proving yet again (as if we needed to see it again) that butter and guns trade-off, a queer homeless shelter that caters to youth in NYC might get shut down:
A leading provider of services for New York City's homeless queer youth may have to close its Chelsea drop-in location. The city health department told the agency that the $600,000 contract that funds the location will be ended in June of 2009.
"For the homeless LGBT youth of our city, the Ali Forney Center has been the difference between acceptance and rejection, frankly, between life and death," said Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center (AFC), at an October 14 press conference. "I do not believe that the city would consciously disrespect the LGBT community by turning its back on our most vulnerable kids."
The drop-in location, which opened in 2005, is funded under the federal Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS program (HOPWA). The funds are administered by the health department and, after increasing the dollars from $300,000 to $600,000 in 2007, that agency told AFC six weeks ago that the dollars would be eliminated entirely. The $600,00 is the entire budget for the drop-in center.
In 2007, the drop-in location had more than 500 clients, placed 200 in emergency housing, served 10,000 meals, performed 250 HIV tests, and placed 50 HIV-positive clients into care and housing, Siciliano said.
That's something to remember while rich people petulantly demand federal money. These programs are the first to be cut because they're at the intersection of several communities that doesn't have much power and aren't liked all too much: queers, homeless people, HIV positive people, and youth.
"Those of us in Washington who have fought very hard, every year we have fought very hard, to maintain and increase HOPWA funding are not pleased that the city, without any direction from Washington, suddenly takes it upon itself to eliminate an entire category of funding within the HOPWA program, leaving so many vulnerable young people exposed," Nadler said. "It is intolerable that these funding cuts can eliminate a center like the Ali Forney Center."
The city told AFC that it was one of five programs doing "outreach" with HOPWA dollars that were being cut and that the dollars would be used to build housing.
"The use is not a bad use, you want more housing," Nadler said. "This kind of thing is critical, so you shouldn't be diverting this money for that."
And it'll be harder to get the money back later.
This is ridiculous. These sorts of programs are one of the few things that the government is doing correctly right now, and that's because they're targeted to certain populations that need help desperately. There already aren't enough beds to go around for the homeless, and LGBT youth face other problems in "straight" shelters. You throw in the fact that they're testing for HIV there, and cutting funding for them is going to cause a world of harm.
And there's no reason for this, other than some other people's greed. And there are so many reasons that having more LGBT homeless people with no options is just a really, really bad idea.