(Media-Newswire.com) – Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today received the final report of recommendations from the City’s Commission for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transg
ender and Questioning ( LGBTQ ) Runaway and Homeless Youth. The Commission, which began its work in October 2009, was charged with developing strategies to address the unique needs of LGBTQ youth. Many of the strategies outlined in the report can be undertaken immediately, and the Mayor has directed the City’s Department of Youth and Community Development to raise the age limit from 21 to 24 in its drop-in centers. The Mayor also directed the agency to reach out to New York State regarding regulatory changes that would require other runaway and homeless youth residential programs to serve the expanded age range.
“New York City is determined to keep providing the support and the care that too many of our young people cannot find in their own families and homes,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We will begin work on many of the strategies outlined in the report immediately, so we can give these young adults a chance to pursue all that this great city has to offer. The more support and resources we can offer, the brighter their futures become.”
Research suggests that more than 20 percent of homeless youth in the United States are LGBTQ; often because they feel rejected by their families. To help combat this issue in New York City, the Mayor will direct all City-funded runaway and homeless youth programs to actively focus on family acceptance and involve families and community members in efforts to prevent homelessness. Program providers will receive training this summer on strategies to engage family members and other supportive adults.
“On behalf of all New Yorkers, I thank the Commission Members for providing us with a coordinated agenda for meeting the diverse needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people – who are disproportionately represented among runaway and homeless youth,” said Deputy Mayor Walcott. “As a result of their hard work, New York City remains far ahead of the curve in terms of ensuring that all of its citizens have the support they need to express their identity in a safe environment.”
“The completion of the Commission’s report represents a tremendous step forward for LGBTQ youth, their families, and advocates,” said Commission Chair Ana Oliveira. “It has been an honor to work with such a diverse group of practitioners, thought leaders, community advocates and young people, but our work is far from done. Every member of the Commission has committed to implementing various strategies from the report, and together we will fulfill our mission of ensuring that no young person will ever be compelled to spend a night on the street.”
“This report provides New York City with a blueprint for becoming the first community in the nation to comprehensively address the unique challenges facing runaway and homeless LGBTQ youth,” said Commissioner Mullgrav. “While our Drop-in Centers and Crisis Shelters, Transitional Independent Living programs, and Street Outreach and Referral Services are already sensitive to issues facing LGBTQ youth, starting today we are launching a coordinated effort that represents a paradigm shift, to ensure that staff at our programs focus more intensively on family engagement and acceptance to prevent or shorten the duration of homelessness among LGBTQ youth. DYCD hopes to be a model for other youth-serving organizations seeking solutions to the unique challenges facing LGBTQ runaway and homeless youth.”
The Commission’s recommendations outline a series of strategies designed to prevent homelessness among LGBTQ youth and young adults, and improve the effectiveness of services delivered to them. The majority of recommendations will be implemented within the next year, while those that require additional funding will be rolled-out as private funds are identified. The recommendations are as follows:
Adopt an increased focus on family and alternative family support strategies, such as training providers on the importance of family acceptance to prevent LGBTQ youth from running away and developing mentoring options for youth and parents.
Test innovative approaches to prevent homelessness or shorten its duration among LGBTQ youth: for example, pilot therapeutic family interventions to increase family acceptance and explore “host home” models to increase housing options for LGBTQ homeless youth.
Create a broad system of positive youth development services for LGBTQ runaway and homeless youth that incorporates established best practices, including protocols that explicitly prohibit unacceptable behaviors and promote LGBTQ-affirming environments.
Broaden access to runaway and homeless youth services for LGBTQ teens and young adults ages 16 to 24, by extending drop-in center services, advocating for changes to New York State Regulations and seeking ways to expand the number of shelter beds.
Create comprehensive and coordinated health services incorporating best practices for delivery of medical care to LGBTQ adolescents and young adults, including improved access to effective HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services.
Improve access to and coordination of mental health, substance abuse, and trauma treatment services through adoption of client-centered case-management systems and training to raise awareness and identify symptoms among LGBTQ runaway and homeless youth and young adults.
Combat homophobia and transphobia and promote acceptance of and support for LGBTQ youth and their families by launching a public education campaign and establishing protocols for providers and youth in out-of-school time programs.
Create an LGBTQ-competent City workforce and develop policies and practices sensitive to LGBTQ youth issues, including ongoing training to frontline staff and the appointment of a DYCD LGBTQ runaway and homeless youth liaison to share best practices among City agencies.
Forge public and private partnerships that include the adult LGBT community to promote the Commission’s recommendations by, for example, expanding employment opportunities, encouraging faith communities to support LGBTQ youth and their families, and exploring ways to improve relations with law enforcement.
Ensure accountability for implementation of the Commission’s recommendations through periodic assessments to evaluate progress and refinement of data collection.
The full report, which includes detailed strategies for implementing the recommendations, is available atwww.nyc.gov or by calling 311.
- Chair – Ana L. Oliveira, President and Chief Executive Officer, The New York Women’s Foundation
- Director – Jeanne B. Mullgrav, Commissioner, Department of Youth and Community Development
- Eliza Byard, PhD, Executive Director; Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network ( GLSEN )
- Angela Diaz, Director, Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center
- Jeffrey Fishberger, MD, Supervising Psychiatrist, Samuel’s Center for Comprehensive Care at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center
- Marjorie J. Hill, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, Gay Men’s Health Crisis
- Jerome Kilbane, Chief Executive Officer, Covenant House
- Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah
- Thomas Krever, MPA, Executive Director, Hetrick-Martin Institute
- Douglas Lasdon, Executive Director and Founder, Urban Justice Center
- Nancy Mahon, Executive Director, MAC AIDS Fund
- Rickke Mananzala, Executive Director, FIERCE
- Robert McMahon, Executive Director, SCO Family Services
- Christine Molnar, Executive Director, Safe Space
- Theresa Nolan, Director of NYC Programs, Green Chimneys Children’s Services
- Rev. Franc Perry, Staff Pastor, First Metropolitan Community Church of Atlanta
- Cindy T. Rizzo, Senior Director, Arcus Foundation
- Therese Rodriguez, Chief Executive Officer, Asian & Pacific Islander Coalition on HIV/AIDS ( APICHA )
- Carl Siciliano, Founder and Executive Director, Ali Forney Center
- Wendy Stark, Executive Director, Callen Lorde Community Health
- Glennda Testone, Executive Director, LGBT Community Center
- Rev. Dr. Terry Troia, Pastor, New Utrecht Reformed Church in Brooklyn
- Nancy Wackstein, Executive Director, United Neighborhood Houses
- Michael Zisser, Chief Executive Officer, The Door
MEDIA CONTACT: Stu Loeser/Jessica Scaperotti ( Mayor ) ( 212 ) 788-2958
GENERAL CONTACT: Cathleen Collins ( Youth and Community Development ) ( 212 ) 442-6012