In New York City, they just broke ground for the Bea Arthur Residence, an 18-bed residence for homeless LGBT youth operated by the Ali Forney Center (AFC). The late Bea Arthur was very upset to learn that thousands of LGBT teens were rejected by their families, and driven to homelessness. She wanted to do anything in her power to help. She performed one of her final public appearances as a benefit for the Ali Forney Center in 2005. When she died in 2009, the Ali Forney Center learned that she had bequeathed $300,000 to the Center in her will. Carl Siciliano, the Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center, pledged that the first building they owned would be named in her memory.
In an article published prior to her death, Bea Arthur said, “I’m very, very involved in charities involving youth. These kids at the Ali Forney Center are literally dumped by their families — this organization really is saving lives.”
AFC is an organization that is sensitive to the needs of bisexual and trans youth. They have recently been awarded funding by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development to provide a housing program for homeless transgender teens between the ages of 16 and 20. The young people will reside there for up to eighteen months, while AFC assists them with accessing benefits, medical care, education and employment. The policies of the program will be implemented based on the specialized needs of transgender youths articulated by AFC clients, staff, and advisors.
Carl Siciliano, Founder and Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center said, “It meant the world to me that a star of the magnitude of Bea Arthur would do so much to help the Ali Forney Center in our work of housing homeless LGBT youth.” He continues, “I am very grateful that we will now be able to honor Bea and continue to keep her compassion alive through the establishment of the Bea Arthur Residence for Homeless LGBT Youth.”
The Ali Forney Center (AFC) is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth. AFC is committed to providing young people with safe, dignified, nurturing environments where their needs for housing and support can be met, and where they can begin to put their lives back together. AFC is also 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. For more information visit: www.aliforneycenter.org