LGBTQ Centers, Strained by COVID, Ask Congress for Funding

LGBT Center
The LGBT Community Center in Manhattan was included among the organizations that asked Congress for additional financial support to help meet increased demand during the coronavirus crisis.

More than 160 LGBTQ community centers and organizations, including several based in New York, sent a letter to congressional leaders asking for funding boosts to help meet spikes in demand stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter, led by a coalition of hundreds of LGBT Centers under CenterLink, first acknowledged the inclusion of non-profits in the coronavirus relief programs embedded within the CARES Act. But there have been issues with implementing the programs at a time when the organizations are in need of immediate relief. 

The letter asked Congress to broaden non-profit access to credit by earmarking funds exclusively for non-profits within the CARES Act’s principal loan program; allocate an extra $250 billion in funding; offer incentives to private lenders to prioritize applications of small non-profits and remove the 500-employee cap on the Paycheck Protection Program; provide $60 billion in emergency loans to 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations including LGBTQ centers; prioritize non-profits, including LGBTQ community centers and their employees, in future unemployment insurance relief; and freeze rules not related to COVID-19 response.

The note was specifically addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The LGBT Center in Manhattan, the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, the Hetrick-Martin Institute, TransNewYork, the Hudson Valley Pride Center, the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center, the Long Island LGBT Center, and SAGE Long Island were among the local groups to sign onto the letter.

“The reality is more assistance is needed for LGBT community centers,” the letter stated. “They are providing critical services such as medical care, mental health counseling, virtual support groups, filling prescriptions, providing hot meals and check-in phone calls for older adults, serving as shelters for homeless youth, distributing nonperishable food items and hygiene products, case management, HIV testing, and hosting virtual engagement activities to decrease social isolation.”

The letter continued, “Given the current financial crisis and loss of revenue, LGBT community centers could be forced to shrink their services, meaning tens of thousands could go without care.”

The request to Congress follows an uptick in food and housing insecurity, social isolation, and a lack of space to social distance among homeless populations who are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus crisis. The hardship faced by marginalized communities has, in turn, placed a strain on community service providers that now need significant financial support in order to meet the increased demand. 

“We are deeply grateful for your leadership in crafting and passing the CARES Act,” the letter stated. “We urge Congress to expand the eligibility for nonprofits to participate in future stimulus packages. LGBT community centers are relying on you so that we can continue to provide critical and essentially needed services in response to the COVID-19 crisis.”

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