NYC First Lady Announces $9.5 Million Investment For LGBTQ Shelter
On May 30, 2018, First Lady Chirlane McCray announced that the NYC Unity Project would invest $9.5 million to prevent and address homelessness for LGBTQ youth across the city. This investment includes funding for the city’s first ever youth shelter for young people up to age 24 and an expansion of hours at the city’s youth drop-in centers, ensuring that every borough has a 24-hour center where young LGBTQ New Yorkers can go to feel safe and supported any time, day or night.
This new commitment through 2021 will also include an unprecedented investment in preventing homelessness and addressing root causes of mental and physical health disparities among LGBTQ youth through programs and services that intervene in family rejection, and facilitate and support family acceptance of young LGBTQ New Yorkers. This package of funding includes new training for clinical practitioners from ethnically and geographically diverse backgrounds, expanded peer supports for parents, and a citywide campaign for parents and family members of young LGBTQ New Yorkers. Today’s announcement is a part of the NYC Unity Project, a citywide effort to make New York City the most welcoming city in the nation for LGBTQ children.
“While many LGBTQ New Yorkers come from loving, supportive families, too many do not. Left without a family support system to rely on, these LGBTQ young people, particularly young people of color, experience extreme physical and mental health disparities, and higher rates of homelessness and unemployment,” said McCray, who leads the NYC Unity Project. “Our city’s LGBTQ young people deserve to live freely without fear. I’m proud that NYC is leading the way toward that goal and investing in our young people’s futures. Today’s announcement is the next step in our deep commitment to support and empower LGBTQ young people across our City.”
In addition to the new shelter, the city will fund new and expanded efforts to prevent and address homelessness and housing for LGBTQ youth, including:
- Expansion of three youth drop-in center hours to 24/7 service, which will serve an additional 400 young people annually at each center and ensure 24-hour service in all five boroughs. (DYCD)
- Expansion of training for parents and caregivers to become peer-to-peer advocates on the importance of family acceptance with other families of LGBTQ youth. (ACS)
- First-of-its-kind clinical training program, specifically aimed at clinicians of color, from geographically diverse neighborhoods in New York, who will be certified and trained in family acceptance clinical work, in partnership with the Ackerman Institute’s Gender and Family Project, a national leader on LGBTQ family acceptance work (ACS)
- Expansion of clinical training program, Project LIFT, which provides training to clinicians working with ACS-involved families to support them in supporting their LGBTQ family members, to serve 600 families annually in partnership with the LGBT Community Center of New York (ACS)
- Funds to create bilingual, Spanish-speaking family support services for families of LGBTQ Latinx youth, in partnership with CAMBA Project Accept LGBTQ Youth (ALY) (DOHMH)
The program also includes an additional investment in the health, safety, and well-being of LGBTQ young people across the City, including:
- The first-ever confidential foster youth population study, which will include questions about sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (ACS)
- A youth-led participatory action research project to identify youth-driven goals and priorities for LGBTQ family acceptance work (DOHMH)
- Two new PrEP for Adolescents clinical sites in Harlem and Central Brooklyn, where LGBTQ young people are more likely to seek services and where HIV transmission rates are high (DOHMH)
NYC continues to be a trailblazer when it comes to its support of the LGBTQ community. Since 2015, NY has been working diligently to erase many of the risk categories that LGBTQ youth fall into due to a lack of support and resources offered for marginalized communities.
- In December, 2015, the NYC Commission on Human Rights issued legal enforcement guidance defining specific gender identity protections under the City Human Rights Law, including equal bathroom access, as well as access to housing, employment, public accommodations, and other protections.
- In March, 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio issued an executive order requiring City agencies to ensure that employees and members of the public are given equal access to City single-sex facilitieswithout being required to show identification, medical documentation, or any other form of proof or verification of gender.
- In June, 2016, New York City became the first municipality to launch a citywide campaign specifically affirming the right of transgender individuals to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity or expression.
- In June, 2017, the de Blasio administration published New York City's first-ever LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights.
- In April, 2018, the de Blasio administration announced it would become the largest city in the country to house incarcerated people according to their gender identity, and not their sex assigned at birth.
Steps taken by the city last week are in complete defiance of the White House in Washington. From the transgender military ban to removal of the Office of National AIDS Policy, the current administration has enacted rollbacks on many of the protections that used to be afforded to LGBTQ people.
NYC’s decision to fund programs towards this demographic is a model that many hope other cities and states will begin to follow to ensure that all citizens have equal protections and rights, despite their gender identity or sexuality.