Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New York City Council "Oversight" Hearing 4.29.09


Today we testified in City Hall Chambers about Runaway and Homeless Youth who have been "sexually exploited", had to result to "sex for survival" when not give food shelter and services, and those who become "sex workers" due to not being given enough alternative services before they had finished developing into adults.

DYCD was invited to "panel" first and there were in attendance 5 counsel members to hear their testimony which did not even acknowledge the gap in services being provided to Runaway and Homeless Youth of New York City. It only addressed programs being funded by DYCD, where the money was spent and the great good their programs are doing. Others such as MCCNY HYS, Bronx Community Pride Center, and many more were left out as though we never existed. When done with their testimony, they left without hearing a single other testimony comprised of NYC RHY service providers(both DYCD-funded and not), and 3 amazing testimonies by brave girls willing to speak first hand about this traumatic victimization they survived through.

The politicians began existing shortly after their much needed yes votes to move forward with Proposition 1227-A were in place also missing the majority of the testimonies.

The Advocates of this population remained in the room to hear each other once again until the testimonies were done. By the end Chair Fidler and his staff was the only City Council representation left with us in the room. He has been on board with us for many years now which means we were "testifying to the converted". He is the City Council Member who started to address these major issues regarding RHY a few years ago after we as service providers were many years into providing services to this transient and under-served population. Thank-You Chair Fidler, please send him a thank-you letter for what he has done and ask that he keep Prop 1227-A moving. Ask him how you can help him see this through to becoming the legislation. This work will save so many lives of a population that has yet to be given equal, appropriate services.

DYCD and Politicians alike were warned during the first portion that the DYCD RFP was not to be discussed yet. In spite of this, DYCD had it in their testimony. We were put on the panel second to last, but he gave us our chance to testify falling on the ears of those already doing all in our power to help.

If you have questions about this venture, call us at 212-629-7440 and ask for Lucky or Frances who were both in attendance.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

NYC DYCD financial report fiscal year 2008


The Left column: $69.20 Million Dollars is Discretionary funds (Political spending money)
in 2008 MCCNY HYS received less than $10,000 in Discretionary.

The Right column: $10.75 Million Dollars is RHY (Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs)
some LGBTQ programs were completely cut out of this pot of $.

• 10 LGBT (TIL) Transitional Independent Living Beds are being closed at Green Chimneys NY by the new fiscal year.

• Drop-In Funds for LGBTQ Drop-In up in the Bronx at BCPC, youth programs will have to be cut if alternatives aren't found.

• Drop-In Funds for Manhattan once given to MCCNY Homeless Youth Services ($400,000 in 07)
MCCNY HYS has been cut down to $0.00 in the new fiscal year (Discretionary $ TBD) Drop-In & Shelter will remain OPEN

NYC DYCD is the agency responsible for administering city funding to youth programs.

Also Note that the DYCD Administration of $38.19 Million Dollars is three times larger than the amount allocated to Direct Service Providers (DYCD is not a Direct Youth Service Provider)
Our programs are forced to cut our meager staffs in half or completely instead of DYCD cutting any of their own jobs in this economic crisis.
Talk about being thrown under the bus.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Safe Haven for Youth

WE GOT ID's: Shelter Residents, & all current Drop-In clients.

The past 2 weeks MCCNY Homeless Youth Services has implemented an ID System for the safety of all the clients we serve at our full time Drop-In facility as well as our full time Shelter for LGBTQ Runaway and Homeless Youth of New York City.

As it was noted in the NYC Association of Homeless and Street-Involved Youth Organizations in last months meeting, as well as with firsthand accounts at Sylvia's Place and other agencies in the past few months, NYC has had a recent resurgence of gang-related activity at/near RHY programs around the city.

This is a clear attempt to access services via programs serving our vulnerable populations and further victimizing a RHY population already overwhelmed with issues hindering their ability to successfully develop. During the past 2 weeks we remained open to our youth and young adults but arranged an implementation of the IDs through phases 1 through 3. This entailed getting more clients to access services between the hours of 12 and 6pm during weekdays which will hopefully encourage more usage of our case management skills and all the work of our FT Social Worker, Tanino Minneci who has been with Sylvia's since day 1 of ongoing client services over 6 years ago. For the past 2 years he has been working during the day doing 1-on-1 case management and providing access to services such as obtaining legal documents for RHY clients, guiding clients through name and gender changes on legal documentation, developmental and life skills. These tools help a client achieve the goals necessary to transition from being a LGBTQ RHY to an independent living adult that each of our clients has the potential of in spite of being cast aside by family, friends, adults, and communities before being allowed a safe place to experience adolescent development and then move on to address their internal issues regarding their identity.

The Shelter remained staffed and functional for the same amount of hours previously operated, however to ensure a successful transition to a security system Drop-In was closed between the hours of 6 and 9pm for just over a week. MCCNY Homeless Youth Services saw a major increase of client participation and development during this time and a lot of happy clients who now feel even safer in an LGBTQ-Specific program than they did previously. Our agency has updated the thousands of client files, given IDs to all clients currently being served and is working on policy to continue through the final phases of the ID system without ever giving up on our pledge to be a first stop for this population, seeing that new comers have access to services while waiting on City Funded programs, most of which have waiting lists of over 100 clients long which results in an approximate waiting period of 1-5 months at minimum. We still take 1st time clients and always will. Of course this puts a large burden on our program to provide the many thousand homeless LGBTQ Youth of NYC a safe harbor until city funded agencies are able to fit a meager few of them into the next step which a Continuum of Care which MCCNY Homeless Youth Services remains excluded from in efforts to minimise the severity of this apparent epidemic that has plagued the most vulnerable, under served, under-represented, transient group of young people in the history of the United States of America.

That said... how many lives have been lost along the way by overlooking these kids for so long.

Be part of the solution and join the growing number of people seeing something and doing all in their power to see that these kids will not have to carry on through life with the INJUSTICES that continue each and every day.

Each morning the emerge to a society that does not "see them" or "the damage" being done to them by all who remain "ignorant", "ignoring them as people", or those "completely avoiding this crowd of surviving kids in need of help".

Now we will work on getting Staff and Volunteers them too if we can manage to keep up with the kids and the funding crisis.

Scout's a Success story, Lucky is a Guinea Pig

Friday, April 24, 2009

Response to Lew Fidler

Dear Friend of Runaway and Homeless Youth,

As one of the "losers", let me be the first to say that Sylvia's Place of MCCNY Homeless Youth Services is here to stay and will remain the NYC institution it has become. We are looking into every alternative means to recoup these funds to prevent programatic cuts.

I do appreciate all the work of Lew Fidler as he is our greatest ally in the NYC Council addressing issues legislatively after getting advisement of RHY service providers. We will continue to support every endeavor the New York City Council puts forth on behalf of LGBTQ RHY. Let me take this opportunity to personally thank the work being done by Chair Fidler to add LGBTQ youth to the RHY Act and I look forward to the day that this legislation is signed onto National RHY Act, so that we can begin appropriations of funding for this population that all evidence shows is going underserved not only in NYC, but globally. The support of Chair Fidler's and Speaker Quinn's offices are integral in the work that needs to happen in this city in order to see that our youth are all accounted for and provided services.

That said, we have a long way to go and we need the support of the New York City Department Youth and Community Development to see that all RHY programs providing essential services to the homeless and street-involved youth are included in this continuim so that every one of the lives of our young people are equally valued and cared for. As service providers, we are all in a position to advocate on behalf of the best interest of the youth on the streets and their development which we will do every time we see injustice in the system that governs, administers funding, or in any way effects this population. In your efforts to track the data of program changes as a result of this RFP, I want you to keep in mind all of the youth that continue to be out of service or are being provided by services that have yet to included in this "system" that has been developed in NYC.

The work being done at the Empire State Coalition and the NYC Association of Homeless and Street-Involved Youth Organizations are also to be credited for the great strides taken in this city and state to assure that the RHY population are provided adequate services and that all service providers are brought to the table. If their model of seeing and addressing trends with this population were to be replicated by the entities involved in funding decisions, we would be further on the road to attaining our collective goals.

MCCNY Homeless Youth Services does not have city funded beds so we were in the unique position to fight for those that do. We are a service provider that has fought aggressively from its inception to provide the services needed to get these youth off the streets and into city funded crisis beds with waiting lists in the hundreds. Our drop-in program is critical to the process of getting them access to services, putting them on the lists for crisis beds, getting them identification, and caring for them until they get into a program elsewhere. We all depend on each other to co-exist and work effectively for the young people that we serve. Informing us that our population could be adequately served elsewhere is unacceptable, as suggested in the form letter from DYCD to MCCNY Homeless Youth Services and every individual advocating on our behalf. DYCD is in no position to know what is best for the development of the youth in our program, but unfortunately their decisions will effect the lives of these young people.

Our call on City Council Members was in no way to suggest that they had anything to do with these DYCD matters, but our only real chance for resolving them. Thus, as our elected officials we need their full support in getting DYCD to address these issues as it is the city entity designed to administer the funds going into RHY programs.

The inadvertant consequences of this DYCD RFP process were too much for us to ignore. We need to see the evidence of these large service gaps that DYCD has left us with being addressed and look forward to hearing real solutions to this matter by DYCD Commisioner Jeanine Mulgrav and the City Council Members going into coversation. Making great strides forward and then steps backwards is not effective to providing the consistant growth that we need to see in order to attain the goal of EVERY child being afforded shelter from the streets of this city.

Lucky S.Michaels
Program Director
MCCNY Homeless Youth Services

Lew Fidler

Dear friend of Runaway and Homeless Youth,

The recent RFP results have stirred some unhappiness among those of us who care deeply about Runaway and Homeless Youth. As with all RFP's, there are winners and losers. However, I am writing to you to address the two overriding concerns that I have as Chairperson of the Youth Services Committee, which as you know has held no fewer than 12 hearings on various aspects of the RHY problem under my leadership.

First, there is a real concern that there is a gap in the provision of services for LGBTQ youth.

Second, there is a concern about the reduced number of shelter beds.

As you also know, before the LGBTQ issue was addressed by my Committee and the Council, there were NO City funded shelter beds for LGBTQ youth despite the fact that as much as 1/3 of the RHY population is LGBTQ. This is and was totally unacceptable. We have made great strides in this, and I have to add, with the support and assistance of DYCD Commissioner Jeannie Mulgrav. Nonetheless, the results of this RFP may have had the inadvertent consequence of leaving large service gaps for LGBTQ youth.

There has been NO reduction in funding for shelter beds. The reduction in beds is a result of an increase in the funding allocation for cost per bed. I am sure our providers welcome the added funding per bed, but none of us welcome a reduction in the gross number of beds. I have fought mind, body and soul for shelter bed money and greatly appreciate my Council colleagues support for adding over $5 million annually for RHY shelter beds in the past several budgets.

As you can well imagine, I will not sit by idly under these circumstances which represent a step backward towards my goal of seeing to it that every child, and I do mean EVERY child, that needs a shelter bed is afforded that opportunity. Those who know me know that I mean that with all my heart.

Therefore, please be advised that the following steps have been and are being taken:

I have directed my finance analyst to get all funding data for the RHY program and track the changes that will take place as a result of the RFP results.

I have met with Speaker Quinn whose support in our RHY work has been constant and critical. She is fully aware of the problem and has assigned her staff to work closely with me on seeking solutions.

I have spoken to Commissioner Mullgrav to let her know that we need to work togther to find ways to close gaps in LGBTQ beds and drop in centers. She was, of course, willing to work with us on solutions. I have also spoken to her about finding a way to replenish the lost beds even in this difficult budget year.

The Speaker's staff and I will be meeting with DYCD in the very near future to begin the actual process of crafting a solution to both of these problems.

I want to assure the "winners" of the RFP that I do not presently view the withdrawal of the RFP as a solution. In addition to the legal difficulties with such---meaning that it may not even be an available option---I would prefer that we find the needed funds to fill the gaps affirmatively. I seriously doubt that anyone receiving this email would argue that the need not only exists, but is greater today in these tough economic times than it was before.

I would also ask that you correct some "bad information" that has circulated and is reflected in some mails, flyers and emails that I have seen.

There was no funidng cut for shelter beds or for that matter for LGBTQ shelter beds. The Council played no role whatoever in the decision making process for the RFP as this would be a violation of City law. I do not believe it is the intention of the DYCD Commissioner Jeannie Mullgrav to cause a diminuition of services for RHY youth or LGBTQ RHY youth. Please help get that word out. Misinformation is truly our enemy. When we have good and right on our side, false assertions hurt our cause more than anything.

Finally, you should know that my commitment to providing shelter beds for all, including LGBTQ youth, remains unwavering. I will keep you advised of our efforts and know that I will always be able to count on you for support in this noble fight.


Chairperson Youth Services Committee

Rally at City Hall

Take Action

City Funding Refusal Threatens Welfare of Thousands of Homeless LGBT 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 LGBT 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.

MCCNY Homeless Youth Services operates Sylvia’s Place, which currently provides 1/3 of the city’s existing beds for LGBT homeless and runaway youth, who face harassment, violence and discrimination at mainstream shelters. Without DYCD funding, the LGBT youth waiting on longer-term housing at the Ali Forney Center and Green Chimneys—a process which can take up to five months--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 LGBT 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 LGBT bed per client ration to well below 2007 levels.,” said the Reverend Pat Bumgardner, Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of New York.

In 2008, Ali Forney Center, which provides drop-in services to LGBT youth from its facilities in Chelsea, was subject to a similar funding refusal by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The recurrence of these city funding refusals to LGBT-specific social service organizations brings into question not only the welfare of the City’s LGBT community but also the willingness of city agencies to protect LGBT New Yorkers.

TAKE ACTION NOW: Tell the DYCD and City Council that the future of LGBT Homeless youth matters! Forward this message to press and network contacts to help us save them

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

In 2008, Ali Forney Center, which provides drop-in services to LGBT youth from its facilities in Chelsea, was subject to a similar funding refusal by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The recurrence of these city funding refusals to LGBT-specific social service organizations brings into question not only the welfare of the City’s LGBT community but also the willingness of city agencies to protect LGBT New Yorkers.

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

E-mail your letter (see example below) to:

Daniel Symon, DYCD Chief Contracting Officer

Jeanne B. Mullgrav, Commissioner DYCD

Mayor Bloomberg


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 serves as the first stop and often the last for homeless LGBT youth waiting on beds in other city funded programs.

Sylvia’s Place has been central to the effort to provide LGBT-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 LGBT individuals. DYCD’s decision will have lasting effects upon the LGBT 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, Gaudelejara, Jamaica, Pakistan, and Kuala Lumur 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 LGBT 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 which identifies as LGBT.

We ask, for the sake of LGBT 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.


April 7, 2009

Your support and assistance is needed on a most urgent matter: the continued funding of Homeless Youth Services at Metropolitan Community Church of New York (MCCNY), which includes Sylvia’s Place overnight shelter and drop-in services for LGBTQ youth.

The Department of Youth and Community Development recently refused funding requests from MCCNY Homeless Youth Services and Bronx Community Pride, and significantly reduced funding for Green Chimneys. All three organizations offer services to runaway and homeless LGBTQ youth.

Without these funds:

• Over 1,500 LGBTQ homeless youth will be left vulnerable to verbal, physical and sexual assault and scapegoating by heterosexual youth at mainstream shelters.

• Rates of suicide, street work and HIV infection among LGBTQ homeless youth will increase; critical services for LGBTQ homeless youth like medical care, case management and employment assistance will end.

• The city’s bed count for LGBTQ youth will drop from a meager 75 beds to a disastrous 40 total beds.

• The City will spend more money addressing the repercussions of returning youth to the street than those saved by not funding safe havens for LGBTQ youth.

This crisis requires immediate action. We are calling on you as a City legislator to coordinate a press conference in order to address these funding cuts and develop a plan to ensure that City LGBTQ homeless and runaway youth shelters receive the critical funding they need to maintain services to vulnerable youth. We are also calling on City Council to introduce legislation that would provide protocol and oversight for DYCD funding decisions, so that they may cut short similar destructive choices in the future.

Our funding must be restored and restored immediately. The consequences for the youth and the financial costs associated with clients who will end up sick or in trouble are too great to simply be ignored as DYCD has chosen to do.

Metropolitan Community Church of New York Homeless Youth Services is a nonprofit organization of MCCNY Charities located in Hell’s Kitchen. MCCNY Homeless Youth Services has responded to meet the needs of homeless, disenfranchised and marginalized lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth and young adults since 2002. Starting with a 6-bed emergency shelter, Sylvia’s Place, MCCNY Homeless Youth Services now has a range of social services offered to shelter residents as well as full-time drop-in services for other runaway and homeless youth.

In March 2009, the Department of Youth and Community Development refused to consider a Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) RFP in the amount of $253,718 for MCCNY Homeless Youth Services. The notice of refusal was accompanied by the statement: “Manhattan is not being considered for a contract award.” This served as the only justification of the funding refusal.

The refusal coincided with a similar RHY RFP rejection issued to Bronx Community Pride, which operates the only crisis and drop-in center for LGBTQ youth in the Bronx, and has been receiving drop-in funds from DYCD since fiscal year 2007. The rejection of Bronx Community Pride’s proposal followed a meeting facilitated by Daniel Symon and attended by multiple other individuals, who refused to give their names. Representatives of Bronx Community Pride were called upon in this meeting to, in essence, defend their program proposal. The Door, another Manhattan youth drop-in center, was also invited to, and attended, an identical meeting.

The DYCD announcement of funds released in late March showed that multiple Manhattan-based programs were not only considered, but awarded contracts under the RHY RFP, including Safe Horizon, Inc. and The Door. Neither program is a specifically-LGBTQ service provider. A City Council-funded study has shown that 35-40% of homeless and runaway youth citywide identify as LGBTQ, and that these youth face serious danger at mainstream shelters. Rapes, violent attacks, verbal abuse and staff neglect are just some of the mistreatment current Sylvia’s Place clients have experienced in mainstream programs. Further, success rates for this population are much higher for LGBTQ youth in LGBTQ-specific programs like Sylvia’s Place, Bronx Community Pride, Green Chimneys, and LGBTQ are negatively affected when denied access to such services.

Despite issuing an appeal to Daniel Symon, we received the same form letter sent to all constituents from Bill Chong in response to an appeal to DYCD Commissioner Jeanne B. Mullgrav. Mr. Chong cited MCCNY Homeless Youth Services “score” as the criteria for their ineligibility, and stated that, “since 2006, DYCD has implemented significant changes to our RHY continuum in order to improve services for all young people, including Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth,” despite all anecdotal evidence from clients, and all clinical research about appropriate models for serving LGBTQ runaway and homeless youth to the contrary. We have yet to get an explanation or a further response to our request to reconsider this funding.

On April 8, we received a letter from DYCD Commissioner Jeanne B. Mullgrav and CC’ed to Daniel Symon in response to our request for an appeal of the funding decision. The letter cited MCCNY’s funding “score,” but contained neither an indication of what criteria that score was based upon, nor an acknowledgement of DYCD’s awareness of the specific needs—and thus specific funding needs—of LGBTQ homeless youth.

In fiscal year 2006, MCCNY Homeless Youth Services received a contract from the Department of Youth and Community Development totaling $400,000 in order to expand our overnight services and begin a comprehensive drop-in program. Green Chimneys and the Ali Forney Center, who also serve LGBTQ homeless youth, were also in receipt of $400,000 contracts in fiscal year 2006. At this time, DYCD acknowledged, through this funding and without even a formal RFP process, that these organizations were the only ones equipped to serve the specific needs of LGBTQ runaway and homeless youth. Since 2006, the Ali Forney Center, Green Chimneys. and Sylvia’s Place have formed a triumvirate of LGBTQ-specific services for runaway and homeless youth, with Sylvia’s Place serving as a first-stop crisis and harm reduction facility; the Ali Forney Center hosting crisis beds with a waiting list of over 100 on any given night; and Green Chimneys coordinating a Transitional Independent Living (TIL) program for LGBTQ youth. DYCD knows now what it knew then: that these small, interdependent programs serve homeless youth well and are, indeed, the only way LGBTQ homeless youth have access to the kind of specialized care they need to survive and to transition into self-sufficiency.

MCCNY Homeless Youth Services has been at the forefront of LGBTQ RHY legislation on the city, state and national level. We support the work Speaker Quinn, Council Member Gerson and Council Member Fidler have already done in response to this crisis, and continue to do on behalf of homeless LGBTQ youth.

This request for secured funding is supported by a coalition of Runaway and Homeless Youth agencies and representatives citywide, including:

Budget cuts from the State and City are currently threatening the available funds for Runaway/Homeless Youth Programs across the City. This is putting many youth at risk of losing valuable resources and lifelines, which is even worse during this difficult job/financial climate. The major threat to our society is that many of these youth will be forced to the streets or other unsafe situations. LGBTQ youth will be at a particularly higher risk because dangers on the street increase dramatically for them. DYCD's inability to fully fund programs to operate their programming models creates dilemmas for agencies who are already financially challenged.

Green Chimneys
Theresa Nolan, Division Director

BCPC is the only LGBT center and the only existing crisis drop-in center in the Bronx for homeless and at-risk youth. BCPC has been the sole voice on the Bronx youth services landscape advocating for homeless and vulnerable youth, both LGBT and straight. These funding cuts will force the closure of BCPC’s homeless and at-risk youth programming, which in turn will jeopardize the health and well being of youth in the Bronx who depend on BCPC’s crisis intervention and case management services on a daily basis. Over the past three years, BCPC has provided crisis referral for over 200 youth, intensive case management for over 700 youth, and has provided approximately 16,000 youth drop-ins with daily structured programming and supportive services.

Without an immediate restoration of funding, BCPC will be forced to turn these youth away to the streets. They will have nowhere else to go and will be forced back to the unsafe and dangerous circumstances that we have worked so tirelessly to help them overcome for the past three years. Manhattan is a different world for our youth population - most are not familiar with it geographically or culturally, and they are unlikely to journey outside the Bronx to seek the services they need.

Additionally, BCPC will be losing the significant trust and relationships with the community that it has built over the past three years. The closure of BCPC’s youth programs will dissolve the numerous collaborative linkages that we have secured with other service organizations in the Bronx, including Bronx AIDS Services, the Community Healthcare Network, and Montefiore's Adolescent AIDS Program. Therefore, this will not only be a loss to BCPC and our youth clients but indeed a tear in the fabric of the runaway and homeless youth services network that we have built in the Bronx.

Lisa Winters, Executive Director
Bronx Community Pride Center

As the editor of the Kicked Out anthology and former homeless queer youth, I urge the DYCD to restore funding to MCCNY Homeless Youth Services: Sylvia's Place. I have had the privilege of working with homeless LGBTQ youth from around the country, and I can confidently say there is nowhere quite like Sylvia’s. LGBTQ youth deserve to be cared for by members of their community, not programs the city decides are ‘culturally competent’ enough.

LGBTQ youth homelessness is an epidemic that is sweeping the nation, and NYC is the front line. We owe it to some of our most vulnerable citizens to give them a safe place to sleep. There are not organizations that will be able to pick up the slack if this funding cut goes through. There will be real youth turned away. These kids will sleep on the streets while waiting to get a bed at another shelter, or because they justifiably do not feel safe or welcome in homophobic institutions that will be their only alternatives. At the end of the day, the youth who call this incredible shelter home do not deserve one more person, let alone the entire city of New York turning their back on them.

Sassafras Lowrey
Author, Kicked Out Anthology

For more information on MCCNY Homeless Youth Services go to:


Homeless Youth Services
446 west 36th st
New York, NY 10018

212-629-7440 Extention 226