The Cooper Square Committee and the Ali Forney Center have been awarded $3 million by the City Council and an additional $300,000 by Borough President, Scott Stringer to develop housing for up to 18 homeless LGBT youth at 222 East 13th Street, which will be formally named the Bea Arthur Residence. Bea Arthur was an advocate and supporter of the Ali Forney Center and its mission. Community Board 3 unanimously recommended that the site be transferred to the Ali Forney Center and the Cooper Square Committee for this use.
The property is currently owned by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which will soon begin the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) in order to transfer the property to our organizations so that we can begin renovations.
“Homeless LGBT youth, most of whom have been cast out of their homes, have faced the worst kind of cruelty and rejection”, said Carl Siciliano, Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center. “I am overwhelmed with gratitude that they are now being shown kindness by this community and its leaders. I am deeply grateful to Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Councilmember Rosie Mendez, Finance Chair Domenic Recchia, the entire Manhattan Delegation and Borough President Scott Stringer for securing the funding for the renovation, and to HPD and Community Boad 3 for their support. And of course I thank Bea Arthur for being such a caring friend to our youth.”
In November, 2005, Bea Arthur flew to New York City from her home in Los Angeles in order to give a special benefit performance of her one-woman show, which raised over $40,000 for the Ali Forney Center. In an interview, Bea explained her decision to offer her support. “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 is saving lives”. Bea continued to offer her support, both as a donor and as an adovate. In one of her very last interviews, published in the New York Blade in May 2008, Bea spoke with pride of having done the benefit for AFC, and indicated that she would do anything to help gay kids disowned by their parents. After her death in 2009, upon learning that she had left $300,000 to AFC in her will, AFC announed it planned to acquire a residential building for its clients to be named in Bea Arthur’s honor.
“The Cooper Square Committee is very pleased that we were able to identify a good development site for this project, and that a wonderful oganization like AFC agreed to partner with us”, said Steve Herrick, Executive Director of the Cooper Square Committee. “We’re thankful to the elected officials for funding our capital request, and we look forward to making this project a reality”.