Bloomberg announces appointees to LGBT homeless youth commission
As rates of homelessness among LGBT youth in the five boroughs continue to rise, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced at an Ali Forney Center fundraiser in Chelsea on Monday night the appointment of 25 people to the city’s Commission for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Runaway and Homeless Youth.
The appointees include Ali Forney executive director Carl Siciliano, Glennda Testone, incoming executive director of the LGBT Community Center, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, FIERCE executive director Rickke Mananzala and Gay Men’s Health Crisis chief executive officer Dr. Marjorie Hill. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was among those who joined Bloomberg.
"There are young people who still need help-sadly there is too many who still do," the mayor said.
Committee chair Ana Oliveira, who is president and chief executive officer of the New York Women’s Foundation, agreed.
"It is an honor to join Mayor Bloomberg and [Department of Youth and Community Development] Commissioner [Jeanne B.] Mullgrav in addressing an issue of such great importance to not only the LGBTQ community, but all New Yorkers who want the best for our young people," Oliveira said in a prepared statement. "The commission will tap into the ingenuity and expertise of a broad range of practitioners, thought leaders, community advocates and young people."
A DYCD spokesperson pointed out to EDGE the agency specifically focused on "meeting the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth" when it redesigned its network of services for runaway and homeless youth in 2006. DYCD further noted it has opened 10 residential sites across the five boroughs since 2007.
The mayor’s announcement comes, however, roughly a year after the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced it no longer allocate $600,000 in federal Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) funds Ali Forney used to operate its West Chelsea drop-in center. The City Council restored the facility’s funding late last year, but the Bronx Community Pride Center faced a similar budget shortfall after the DYCD announced earlier this year it would cease funding of its youth drop-in services.
The DYCD also announced it would cut more than half the amount of money it extended to Green Chimney’s transitional living program. Quinn and City Councilmember Lewis Fidler, who chairs the Youth Services Committee, were able to earmark discretionary funds to plug these budgetary holes, but Siciliano conceded to fundraiser attendees funding remains a concern.
He remained optimistic, however, Ali Forney and other organizations will continue to meet the needs of the city’s homeless LGBT youth.
"These financial cutbacks cannot and will not deter us," Siciliano said.