Storm Surge Destroys Ali Forney Drop-In Center

A drop-in center run by the Ali Forney Center (AFC), which provides housing and social services to homeless LGBTQ youth across New York City, was a casualty of Hurricane Sandy.

The 1,200 square-foot facility, located on the block of West 22nd Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues just east of the Hudson River, took on as much as four feet of water, destroying telephones, computers, a refrigerator, food, and supplies.”

On November 2, AFC’s executive director, Carl Siciliano, was able to inspect the damage, and alerted supporters of the organization, “Our worst fears were realized; everything was destroyed and the space is uninhabitable.”

Siciliano explained, “This space was dedicated to our most vulnerable kids, the thousands stranded on the streets without shelter, and was a place where they received food, showers, clothing, medical care, HIV testing and treatment, and mental health and substance abuse services. Basically a lifeline for LGBT kids whose lives are in danger.”

Beyond these services, AFC houses 20 youths in four transitional living sites in Manhattan and Brooklyn and provides emergency beds for up to six months to 50 youths at four additional sites in Brooklyn and Queens.

The LGBT Community Services Center is providing space to Ali Forney on a temporary basis to keep its drop-in services running, and more help is on the way. According to the Los Angeles Times, a blog post about the flood on the Joe My God blog led actress Pam Grier to tweet a link, which generated donations of $100,000 to AFC. Actress Ally Sheedy and celebrity photographer Mike Ruiz are hosting a November 11 fundraiser for the group at Industry Bar, 355 West 52nd Street. Admission to the 4-7 p.m. event is $20 at the door. AFC board member Bill Shea and his husband Frank Selvaggi have offered a matching donation of up to $50,000.