WEST ORANGE, NJ - Garden State Equality continues its long history of fighting for the rights of the LGBT community and its youth. We are proud to join in the efforts of the National Coalition for the Homeless and the Ali Forney Center as they launch the National Campaign for Youth Shelter. This is a collaboration to build a grassroots campaign to demand a national response to youth homelessness.
The National Campaign for Youth Shelter calls include the following:
1. A federal commitment to provide all youths age 24 and under with immediate access to safe shelter, affirming the principle that no young person in the United States should be left homeless in the streets.
2. An immediate commitment to add 22,000 beds. (This number corresponds to the number of youths identified in the most recent Point In Time Count of homeless persons conducted by the federal government).
3. A more accurate and comprehensive effort to count the number of homeless youth in the nation in order to determine the number of beds that are needed over the next decade.
On June 2nd the National Campaign for Youth Shelter will hold a rally in New York City to launch the campaign as a priority within the LGBT movement. LGBT youth are disproportionately over-represented in the homeless youth population, with as many as 40% of the nation’s homeless youth being LGBT, while only 5% of the overall youth population is LGBT.
A second rally will be held in Washington DC later in the year by a broader coalition of organizations also impacted by youth homelessness. Currently, there are only approximately 4,000 youth shelter beds in the United States, yet as many as 500,000 unaccompanied youths experience homelessness each year.
“Garden State Equality’s work is not over, especially when LGBT youth, often rejected by family, friends and the community, struggle to find safe and secure housing and care,” said John Mikytuck, Interim Executive Director of Garden State Equality. “It is imperative that we educate our elected leaders and community members that our youngest and most vulnerable need their attention and assistance. We will continue to be ever vigilant in protecting the rights and safety of the LGBT community.”
“It’s indefensible that our nation would abide hundreds of thousands of young people to be homeless and on their own,” says Jerry Jones, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “The National Campaign for Youth Shelter will highlight the urgency of basic emergency shelter as we work toward permanent solutions to this crisis.”
“It is unprecedented to have so many LGBT organizations join together with prominent national housing and anti -poverty organizations to fight for the humane treatment of impoverished youths.” says Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center. “With all this support, the National Campaign for Youth Shelter will build a movement to finally prevent youths from being left to suffer homelessness without access to shelter. The wealthiest nation on earth must not allow its youths to be left out in the streets.”
Over 30 organizations have endorsed the National Campaign for Youth Shelter, including Garden State Equality.
Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s leading civil rights organization, works to ensure the quality of life for the LGBT community through education, advocacy, service and support. Since its founding in 2004, with support from over 150,000 members, GSE has helped enact over 200 state, county, and local LGBT laws including the freedom to marry and the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights. For more information about Garden State Equality, visit www.gardenstateequality.org
The National Coalition for the Homeless was founded in 1982 with the mission of ending homelessness. We strive to make sure the immediate needs of those experiencing destitution are met and their civil rights are protected.
The Ali Forney Center is located in New York City and is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth, providing housing, supportive services to over 1,000 homeless LGBT youth per year and advocacy on their behalf.