The Ali Forney Center, the New York-based LGBTQ community center, released a statement in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
New York State has more cases than anywhere else in the country with 524 as of today – including its first mortality. New York City, where the Center operates its several shelters for LGBTQ youth, has the second-most in the state with 154.
As LGBTQ people are more likely to contract the virus, and more at risk to succumb to it, closing their operations would make sense.
However, President and Executive Director Alexander Roque issued the following statement, letting supporters know that they cannot close.
With the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), many service organizations are understandably making the difficult decision to temporarily suspend their onsite services.
This is not possible for the Ali Forney Center. We cannot close and ask our clients to call from home. We are their home. For LGBTQ youth experiencing the terrors of homelessness, we are their first responders. And now they need us more than ever.
In such a time of fear, we have to stand firm and keep our doors open. We are taking every step possible to protect our youths and staff and limit exposure, suspending outside groups and volunteers from visiting our sites, and making arrangements for staff, reorganizing our programs so youths need not travel between our many sites for their services, establishing quarantine zones in all our sites in case any of our youths become sick or exposed.
Many of our youths and staff are understandably frightened. But despite our fear, we must be there for each other. Every single day we must be here for our young people and, we hope that you will be here for us too and support in any way you can.
Visit links below to make a donation or to learn about other ways you can help our homeless youths during this time.
President and Executive Director
The Ali Forney Center
The Center is named for Ali Forney, a gender non-conforming youth shot to death in 1997. Their mission is to provide LGBTQ young people housing and a continuum of supportive services.
Launching in 2002 with “just six beds in a church basement,” they are now the largest agency dedicated to LGBTQ homeless youth in the country. They provide “over 70,000 meals annually, medical and mental health services through an on-site clinic, and a scattered site housing program.”
In a time of fear and darkness due to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), we cannot close our doors to LGBTQ homeless youth and ask them to call from their home for services. We are their home. Find out how to support AFC in these challenging times. https://t.co/5l6aPaQDE7
— Ali Forney Center (@AliForneyCenter) March 13, 2020