by Verena Dobnik, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP)—An emergency center for homeless youth is struggling to recover after Superstorm Sandy wiped out its humble Manhattan space.
“It was a disaster in a disaster,” said Carl Siciliano, the founder and executive director of the center, which takes in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender kids.
The Oct. 29 storm waters wrecked the street-level Ali Forney Center near the Hudson River, which provided showers, medical care, education guidance and temporary housing help. Some services were temporarily relocated to a nearby LGBT community center.
The center now is raising money to rebuild the drop-in facility in the Chelsea neighborhood. Many of the youth who use the center have been kicked out by their families and live wherever they can find a warm spot.
On Sunday, the center staff organized a fundraiser co-hosted by actress Ally Sheedy and photographer Mike Ruiz.
The New York City Council says LGBT youth represent about half the city’s nearly 4,000 homeless children. About 150 young people would arrive daily at Ali Forney looking for a bed. Two hundred city shelter beds are reserved for youth, and Ali Forney can offer only 77.
“Every day is a disaster at the Ali Forney Center,” said Siciliano. “And this was the biggest crisis in our 10-year history.”
About $400,000 must be raised to replace what was lost in Superstorm Sandy; the money will go toward a new 24-hour site in Harlem.
The center is named for a homeless young man who was shot to death on a Manhattan street.