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NYC Homeless LGBT Youth Shelter a 'Disaster'


A longtime shelter for homeless LGBT youth is coming under fire for being far from safe.

Sylvia's Place, an emergency shelter for LGBT youth located in Midtown Manhattan that opened in 1994, has become widely known as a spot where homeless, queer youth can spend the night protected from the elements and whatever else might lurk on the street. Unfortauntely, an expose in The New York Timesthis Sunday alleged that Sylvia's is unlicensed, unregulated and nearly uninhabitable.

Homeless teenagers who have stayed at Sylvia's describe the shelter as "dirty, overcrowded and unsafe with as many as 30 occupants sleeping in a space originally occupied by only 6... clients would routinely sleep on the floor, and fights were common."

Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, the nation's largest LGBT youth shelter, called Sylvia's Place "a disaster waiting to happen."

The Times also reported that "Sylvia's Place is not certified for occupancy as either a church or a shelter by the Department of Buildings.... no one at Sylvia's Place responded to repeated requests for comment about the certificate of occupancy or whether the building met fire-safety requirements."

New York City's homeless LGBT youth need all the help they can get, but if these allegations are accurate, Sylvia's Place may be doing as much harm as good.


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