City Funding Refusal Threatens Welfare of Homeless LGBTQ Youth

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City Funding Refusal Threatens Welfare of

Thousands of Homeless LGBTQ Youth

The New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) has failed to consider $253,718 in funding for Sylvia’s Place, a project of MCCNY Homeless Youth Services, thus jeopardizing the welfare of over 1,000 homeless and runaway LGBTQ youth in the coming year who would rely on Sylvia’s Place services.

The refusal follows DYCD claims that all Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) Drop-In Center proposals in Manhattan had been eliminated from consideration for funding in fiscal year 2010. DYCD also rejected a continued funding request from Bronx Community Pride Center, who has also been offering DYCD-funded drop-in services to LGBTQ youth for the past four years. DYCD slashed funding by 2/3 for Green Chimneys, which operates a transitional housing program for LGBT youth. DYCD also severely cut funds for Safe Horizon’s Streetworks Lower East Side and Streetworks Overnight, which serve 35%-40% LGBTQ youth.

“In 2008, Ali Forney Center, which provides drop-in services to LGBTQ youth from its facilities in Chelsea, was subject to a similar funding refusal by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene,” said MCCNY Charities Executive Director William Morán-Berberena.

MCCNY Homeless Youth Services operates Sylvia’s Place, which currently provides 1/3 of the city’s existing beds for LGBTQ homeless and runaway youth, who face harassment, violence and discrimination at mainstream shelters. Without DYCD funding, the LGBTQ youth waiting on transitional beds at the Ali Forney Center and Green Chimneys—a process which can take a long time—will be forced back to the streets.

“Losing contact with at-risk youth will mean that we will be unable to locate them when their names come up on months-long waiting lists,” said MCCNY Homeless Youth Services Director Lucky S. Michaels. “We will also be unable to ensure that the youth receive the services—food, medical care, and shelter—they need, and the assistance they require to avoid future interactions with law enforcement.”

Of the nearly 3.800 youth who are homeless in New York City every night, over 1080 identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to a 2007 study by the Empire State Coalition of Youth and Family Services. Sylvia’s Place currently houses 26 of the only 75 beds for LGBTQ homeless youth in the city.

“Without DYCD funding for drop-in centers in Manhattan, all Sylvia’s Place’s programs are at great risk of closing, reducing the LGBTQ bed per client ration to well below 2007 levels.,” said the Reverend Pat Bumgardner, Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of New York.

“The recurrence of these city funding refusals to LGBTQ-specific social service organizations brings into question not only the welfare of the City’s LGBTQ community but also the willingness of city agencies to protect LGBTQ New Yorkers,” said Morán-Berberena.


Tell the DYCD and City Council that the futures of LGBTQ homeless youth matter! Forward this message to your press and network contacts and get the word out that LGBTQ youth are at risk of losing vital services!

E-mail your letter to:

Daniel Symon, DYCD Chief Contracting Officer

Jeanne B. Mullgrav, Commissioner DYCD


Dear [Mr. Symon, Ms. Mullgrav, Mayor Bloomberg]:

We are requesting that you reconsider your funding refusal to MCCNY Homeless Youth Services, which relies on funding from the Department of Youth and Community Development to operate Sylvia’s Place. By neglecting to fund their program, you threaten a breakdown in the runaway and homeless youth (RHY) system in New York City. Sylvia’s Place is one of the few emergency shelters that house LGBTQ youth waiting on beds in other city-funded programs.

Sylvia’s Place has been central to the effort to provide LGBTQ-specific services. Sylvia’s Place representatives serve on the national LGBTQ Advisory Council, and work with a number of leaders to develop international support to homeless LGBTQ individuals. DYCD’s decision will have lasting effects upon the LGBTQ RHY population nationwide.

Organizations nationally and internationally have looked to MCCNY Homeless Youth Services for advise on best practices and how to start up similar crisis facilities worldwide. To date MCCNY has worked with or are working with programs in Arizona, Guadalajara, Jamaica, Pakistan, and Kuala Lumpur and are focusing their work on providing health and human services in New York City while setting the example to communities elsewhere.

A recent pattern of New York City budget cuts has affected already-underserved LGBTQ communities: a disturbing trend that may be duplicated on the national level. Attempting to cut Ali Forney Day Center’s money entirely, cutting Green Chimney’s funds by 2/3 and refusing to fund MCCNY Homeless Youth Services while funding other RHY programs leaves us wondering where the priorities are for a youth population, 35-40% of whom identify as LGBTQ.

We ask, for the sake of LGBTQ runaway and homeless youth, that you call for the awarding of desperately-needed funds to MCCNY Homeless Youth Services, and continue the fight to protect all runaway and homeless youth.


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