Ali Forney CenterThe Ali Forney Center (AFC), based in New York City, is the largest LGBT community center helping LGBT homeless youth in the United States. The AFC both manages and develops transitional housing for its clients. The AFC helps approximately 1,000 youths every year, most between sixteen and twenty-four years old. The AFC is named after Ali Forney, a transgender youth who was murdered in New York in 1997.
DescriptionThe AFC is located in eight different buildings in Brooklyn and Queens and in 2012 provided 77 beds a night for homeless LGBT youth. AFC also runs a drop-in center, open on weekdays where clients can apply for housing, are provided food and hygiene services and can get health care for free. Siciliano says that the clients served by the drop-in center are often in the most acute crisis. AFC serves the LGBT population because they represent approximately forty percent of New York's young homeless people.
HistoryThe AFC has been serving homeless LGBT youth in New York since 2002. It was founded by Carl Siciliano who continues serving as the executive director. When it first opened, it had only six beds. Siciliano, who knew and respected Forney, recalls that it was a challenge to secure funding for the first two years of the shelter's operation. By 2007, they had 32 beds, 50 staff and could offer free medical care, HIV testing, hygiene services, job training and job placement at the drop-in center.
During the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the drop-in center was flooded. A fund raiser hosted by Ally Sheedy helped raise money for the shelter to relocate and reopen the drop-in center. Through word of mouth and social media, an additional $100,000 was raised in one day to help the shelter.
In July 2015, the AFC broke ground on a new Bea Arthur Homeless Shelter. The shelter is named after the actress, Bea Arthur, who left $300,000 in her will to the AFC. Arthur's endowment to the shelter allowed it stay open during the recession in 2009.
The shelter has received donations from other sources as well in order to expand and help maintain operating costs. In 2009, the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island donated $200,000 to help the shelter stay open after losing nearly $450,000 in funding due to the economic downturn. In 2012, the New York City Council and the Manhattan borough president provided $3.3 million to renovate the building that will house the Bea Arthur shelter. In addition to the money that she left in her will, Arthur also helped raise $40,000 for AFC in 2005 with her one-woman show, "Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends."