Staff Writer cityXtra Magazine
The Bea Arthur Residence giving young LGBTI people shelter and hope has launched in New York’s Lower East Side. The center is now ready to house LGBT young people in time for Christmas. The last final hurdle is the pending city approval.
Beloved Golden Girls Arthur actor left $300,000 to support the Ali Forney Center. She left the instructions in her will when she died in 2009, and now her dream for the shelter is fulfilled. Arthur was a fierce and vocal advocate for LGBTI youth.
The center has now launched with a naming ceremony this week after much anticipation. There were delays due to building regulations causing setbacks to the project. Now, it is ready to help the lives of 18 vulnerable homeless LGBT young people.
Before her death, Arthur promised to do anything to give homeless LGBT youth a place to call home.
‘These kids at the Ali Forney Center are literally dumped by their families because of the fact that they are lesbian, gay or transgender — this organization really is saving lives,’ she said in an interview with NEXT Magazine. Before her death in 2009, she revived her one-woman Broadway show for one night. The proceeds of which too went to the Ali Forney Center.
Speaking as the center opens alongside Bea Arthur’s family Carl Siciliano, Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center says ‘We are proud to dedicate this residence in her honor.
Adding, ‘The Bea Arthur Residence marks an important shift in the way that we are able to house and care for young people who have been discarded by their families simply because of who they are. Pending city approvals, we hope to begin housing young people here within the next few weeks.’
In 2012, the New York City Council also gave $3 million, while Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer gave another $300,000 to the Ali Forney Center (AFC) project.
At the naming ceremony, the office of New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio declared November 30 as ‘Bea Arthur Day’ forever more. Speaking about the project Mayor DeBlasio says:
‘The Ali Forney Center is working to uplift and empower homeless LGBTQ youth across our city.
‘Named in honor of actress Bea Arthur who was a tireless advocate for homeless LGBTQ youth; AFC’s Bea Arthur Residence will offer safe and welcoming housing options. It will have counseling and employment assistance for young people in need.’
Moreover, The Bea Arthur Residence is just the first of AFC’s 15 locations. The others will open throughout New York City.
It will house youths participating in AFC’s Transitional Living Program. The 24-month-long program will help prepare the homeless LGBT young people for successfully living alone.