The Cooper Square Committee and the Ali Forney Center were awarded $3 million by the city council and an additional $300,000 by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer last week to transform a vacant and three-story building on 13th Street into a shelter for homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths.
“Homeless LGBT youth, most of whom have been cast out of their homes, have faced the worst kind of cruelty and rejection,” said Ali Forney’s Executive Director Carl Siciliano in a statement. “I am overwhelmed with gratitude that they are now being shown kindness by this community and its leaders.
Located at 222 East 13th Street, the building was a notorious crack house in the 1980’s known for its weekly stabbings, burglaries and fires. According to an article in City Journal, odors from trash and human waste were so bad at the time that it would take months for the landlord of the next door apartment building to fill vacancies.
The city took control of the troubled building in 1991 as part of its 7A Anti-Abandonment program, and evicted tenants and padlocked the building’s doors the following year. Some of the ex-tenants entered a legal battle with the city over their eviction, but the building has remained boarded up.
Now, the city will pass ownership to the Cooper Square Committee and the Ali Forney Center for the renovation project. The building, which will house up to 18 disowned youths, will be named the Bea Arthur Residence in honor of the late actress, who was an outspoken supporter of the ALC and left $300,000 to the organization in her will.
“We’re thankful to the elected officials for funding our capital request, and we look forward to making this project a reality,” said Steve Herrick, the Cooper Square Committee’s Executive Director.
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