With approximately 40% of the homeless community being comprised of LGBTQ youth, finding a safe, welcoming place for shelter can be difficult. Thankfully for any homeless LGBTQ youth in New York City, they can thank the late, great Bea Arthur for being a friend in helping some of them find a place to stay.
Thanks to Arthur's longtime support of The Ali Forney Center, a new housing residence will be opened in early 2017, providing 18 beds, counseling and case management services to LGBT homeless youth. The new residence will honor the late actress by being named the Bea Arthur Residence, recognizing all of her contributions to the organization's efforts.
Arthur had been a longtime supporter of The Ali Forney Center. Arthur had performed at a benefit to help the organization's early years and helped raise $40,000 for the group. Upon her death in 2009, she left $300,000 in her will to help support the center.
"These kids at the Ali Forney Center are literally dumped by their families because of the fact that they are lesbian, gay or transgender," said Arthur of the group. "This organization is really saving lives."
The organization was named after Ali Forney, a gender nonconforming teen who fled from home at a young age. Forney lived without a physical home but dedicated his life to helping other members of his community until his murder in 1997. The Center has been doing its part for the community since the early 2000s though its mission to provide housing and "a continuum of supportive services to help them thrive and prepare them for independent living."
The residence was expected to open this summer but after resolving some of the violations that the original building had, LGBT youth can expect the doors to open by February 2017.
The $3.3 million dollar project would not have been possible without Arthur's support.
"I honestly don't know how we would have made it through the recession without that extraordinary gift," said Executive Director of The Ali Forney Center of Arthur's donation in her will. "Bea Arthur truly meant it when she said she would do anything to help our kids. Now between our 12 housing sites and 24/7 drop-in center we are able to provide for over 1,000 youths per year."