Following Hurricane Sandy last week, New York's Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBT youth says its drop-in center in Chelsea has been completely destroyed.
From Carl Siciliano, the center's executive director:
"I am saddened to report that this past weekend we were finally able to inspect our Drop-In Center on West 22nd Street - which serves as the entry point to many of our programs for LGBTQ youth, including medical care, HIV testing, mental health services, housing referrals, an employment assistance program, and more - and our worst fears were realized: it is destroyed. Water went at least four feet up the walls, and everything in there, including phones, computers, refrigerators, supplies, and the building floors has been irreparably damaged. I do not see us being able to return there, especially since our lease is finished at the end of January.
"This facility provided care to the most vulnerable youth served by AFC, those stranded out on the streets awaiting shelter While our new 24-hour drop-in center will open as planned in a different location, it will not be ready for full service for several months.
"We are thankful that all of the young people who find shelter and housing with us were kept safe through the storm, and that none of our eight housing sites were damaged.
"We are pursuing every means possible to take care of our youth in the interim. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center has graciously offered us the use of its space, and we are currently evaluating this option.
“As we take on this challenge, we are enormously grateful for the immense outpouring of support we have seen, and we hope our city and the LGBTQ community will continue to rally behind us.”
Donations to the AFC can be made at: http://www.aliforneycenter.org/hurricanesandy
About the Ali Forney Center
The Ali Forney Center (AFC) was started in June of 2002 in response to the lack of safe shelter for LGBT youth in New York City. The Center is committed to providing these young people with safe, dignified, nurturing environments where their needs can be met, and where they can begin to put their lives back together. AFC is dedicated to promoting awareness of the plight of homeless LGBT youth in the United States with the goal of generating responses on local and national levels from government funders, foundations, and the LGBT community.