Singer and 80s icon Cyndi Lauper has a long history with the LGBT community, appearing as Grand Marshall in the 2008 San Francisco Pride Parade and founding the Give A Damn campaign for equality. Now, Lauper is getting ready to open a homeless shelter for LGBT youth in New York.
“In New York City, a very disproportionate number (up to 40%) of homeless youth identify as LGBT,” the Grammy-winning artist wrote in a press release. “Even more disturbing are reports that these young people often face discrimination and at times physical assault in some of the very places they have to [sic] for help. This is shocking and inexcusable!
“Our primary goal is to provide a physically and emotionally safe and supportive environment that will empower our young residents to be the self-loving, happy and successful individuals they were meant to be.”
The True Colors Residence, named for Lauper’s 1986 hit song, will be the first permanent housing facility for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in New York State. Welcoming residents ages 18 to 24, the facility will consist of 30 energy-efficient studio apartments with indoor and outdoor community spaces. Lauper’s organization will also offer educational programs and employment assistance based on the residents’ individual skills and interests.
Social workers around the city are ecstatic about the new facility. Although True Colors Residence won’t open until September 1, other LGBT community organizations are already referring potential residents.
“There are fewer than 200 beds for homeless youth in New York City, and fewer than ten beds for homeless LBGT youth,” Carl Siciliano, founder and executive director of the Ali Forney Center, told WNYC radio. “So every new bed aimed at this new population is really a matter of life and death that could get kids off the street.”
Jeanne B. Mullgrav, commissioner of the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, agreed. “[W]ith the opening of the True Colors Residence, more housing and services will be available to help our most vulnerable youth succeed and thrive,” she said.
To find out more about True Colors Residence or make a donation, click here.
Photo credit: Cary Bass (Creative Commons Share Alike)