Funding Doubles for Homeless Youth in NY
New York State Budget Doubles Funding for Homeless Youth;
Maintains Funding for LGBT Health and Human Services Network
The New York State Legislature Increases Funding for Runaway and Homeless Youth to $4.48M and Maintains Funding for the LGBT Health and Human Services Network at $4.97M
The Empire State Pride Agenda, New York’s statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today celebrates the New York State Legislature’s passage of the 2015 State Budget, which nearly doubles the amount of funding for Runaway and Homeless Youth (“RHY”) to $4.48 million. The increase in funding is welcome news to the thousands of young people – 40% of whom identify as LGBT – who are forced to sleep on the streets each night and will help to create up to 1,000 new dedicated youth shelter beds across the state.
The increase in funding for homeless youth shelters is the result of a successful campaign launched by a coalition of partners, including the Pride Agenda, the Coalition for Homeless Youth, the Ali Forney Center, and Covenant House, under the leadership of New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, Senator Tony Avella and Assembly Members Linda Rosenthal and Andrew Hevesi. Even singer Miley Cyrus weighed in by sending a letter to New York State leaders. Since 2008, state funding for homeless youth shelters and services has been cut by $4 million. At the same time, the number of instances of kids being turned away from youth shelters each year due to a lack of beds has increased from 570 to more than 5,000, according to state data. While more is still needed to address this growing crisis, this year’s increase will provide much needed relief to hundreds of New York’s most vulnerable kids.
In addition, the New York State Legislature maintained funding for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Health Initiative through the AIDS Institute at the NYS Department of Health at $4.97 million. One major project of the LGBT Health Initiative is the New York State LGBT Health and Human Services Network (The Network). The Network is a coalition of 53 LGBT-specific and LGBT-supportive nonprofit organizations that provide programming and services to nearly 1.5 million LGBT New Yorkers and our families. Founded in 1994 and administered by the Pride Agenda Foundation, the Network consists of organizations like AIDS Care in Rochester, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in Manhattan and Long Island’s Pride for Youth, providing services that address the continuum of needs facing our communities. Though more funding is still needed, the funding allocated by the state helps sustain the critical services provided by Network organizations in all 62 counties across New York State.
“We’re grateful to Senator Hoylman, Senator Tony Avella, Assembly Member Rosenthal and Assembly Member Hevesi for leading the efforts in the legislature to make our kids a priority in this year’s budget. We also commend Governor Cuomo Speaker Heastie, and Senate Leaders Skelos and Klein for defending the funding increase during budget negotiations,” said Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Nathan M. Schaefer. “This is the first appreciable increase in funding for runaway and homeless youth since 2008 and represents years of advocacy. As a result, fewer kids will be forced to fend for themselves on New York’s streets or to resort to survival sex just to find a warm place to sleep at night.”
Now that the budget has passed, the Pride Agenda looks forward to working with the legislature to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which would extend civil rights protections to transgender New Yorkers, and the bill to protect LGBT youth from conversion therapy.
About the Empire State Pride Agenda
Founded in 1990, the Empire State Pride Agenda is New York’s statewide civil rights and advocacy group committed to achieving full equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) New Yorkers and our families. The Pride Agenda fights for these priorities by: educating policymakers, elected officials and the public; building coalitions and mobilizing allies; lobbying government officials; administering a Political Action Committee; and organizing and empowering the LGBT community. prideagenda.org