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LGBT homeless youth drop-in center in NYC destroyed in ‘Frankenstorm’

By Ken Williams| San Diego Gay and Lesbian News
Monday, November 5, 2012
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NEW YORK — A major homeless drop-in center for LGBT youth in New York City has been badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

The Ali Forney Center in the Chelsea area of Manhattan said on its website that the so-called Frankenstorm that devastated many areas of the upper East Coast, including New Jersey and New York, had sustained major water damage from the mega-storm and left it unable to take care of the Big Apple’s homeless LGBT youth.

Carl Siciliano, a nationally known LGBT leader who is executive director of the center, issued this appeal on the website:

“… We were finally able to inspect our drop-in center in Chelsea, half a block from the Hudson River. Our worst fears were realized; everything was destroyed and the space is uninhabitable. The water level went four feet high, destroying our phones, computers, refrigerator, food and supplies.

“This is a terrible tragedy for the homeless LGBT youth we serve there. This space was dedicated to our most vulnerable kids, the thousands stranded on the streets without shelter, and was a place where they received food, showers, clothing, medical care, HIV testing and treatment, and mental health and substance abuse services. Basically a lifeline for LGBT kids whose lives are in danger.

“We are currently scrambling for a plan to provide care to these desperate kids while we prepare to ultimately move into a larger space that will better meet our needs. The NYC LGBT Center has very kindly and generously offered to let us temporarily use some of their space, and we hope to determine the viability of that on Monday.

“We have been deluged with kind offers from people who wish to volunteer and donate goods. Unfortunately, we will have to provide our services in the time being in much smaller spaces that won’t accommodate volunteers or allow for much storage space. The best way people can reach out to help in this very challenging time is by making monetary donations. Please go to our website at www.aliforneycenter.org/hurricanesandy.

“It is heartbreaking to see this space come to such a sad end. For the past seven years it has been a place of refuge to thousands of kids reeling from being thrown away by their parents for being LGBT. For many of these kids coming to our drop-in center provided their first encounter with a loving and affirming LGBT community. I thank all of you for your care and support in a most difficult time.”

The Ali Forney Center is the nation’s largest organization working on behalf of homeless LGBT youth, working to support them in becoming safe and independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood.

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