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NYC to open first ever youth shelter to address LGBTQ homelessness

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First Lady Chirlane McCray announced a $9.5 million investment toward addressing LGBTQ homelessness in the city

Via Chirlane McCray’s Twitter

The city has committed to opening NYC’s first ever shelter for young New Yorkers up to the age of 24, primarily to address homelessness among young LGBTQ New Yorkers. First Lady Chirlane McCray made the announcement Tuesday as part of a larger $9.5 million investment toward tackling LGBTQ homelessness in the city.

Other initiatives that are part of this investment are as follows: expansion of services at three youth drop-in centers in the city that will now be open 24/7—the eventual goal is to have at least one youth drop-in center open in every borough; expansion of training for parents and caregivers to become peer-to-peer advocates for families struggling with accepting an LGBTQ member; a clinical training program that will look to recruit clinicians of color from diverse neighborhoods across the city and train them in family acceptance work; and to create bilingual, Spanish-speaking family support services for LGBTQ Latinx youth.

“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, in a statement. “Today’s announcement is the next step in our deep commitment to support and empower LGBTQ young people across our City.”

This nearly $10 million investment is part of the NYC Unity Project, an effort to make the city the most welcoming in the country to LGBTQ children. The initiative is led by McCray, and is also looking to increase the visibility of LGBTQ youth in the city and to connect them with supportive services in the city.

“We are especially gratified to see a commitment to fund youth shelters for young people up to age 24, as there is an overwhelming need for such shelters in the LGBT homeless youth population,” said Carl Siciliano, the executive director of the Ali Forney Center, the country’s largest community center for LGBTQ homeless youth.

Today’s announcement follows on the heels of the landmark set of bills approved by the New York City Council in March to address the issues of access to shelters for homeless youth.

“The opening of the city’s first shelter for runaway homeless youth ages 21-24 is a major step towards progress,” said Corey Johnson, the speaker of the City Council, in a statement. “It’s no secret that many of these young people are from the LGBTQ community, and we are under a special obligation to help and protect them.”