Cash Relief ∙ Jobs ∙ Housing
Supporting NYC’s LGBTQ Youth
New York City has the largest number of LGBTQ residents of any city in the country, and historically, New York’s LGBTQ community has been at the forefront of this country’s fight for equal rights. But there is more to be done, particularly for our LGBTQ young people. 40% of NYC’s homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. Moreover, nationally, LGBTQ youth consider suicide at nearly three times the rate of their non-LGBTQ peers and more than half of transgender and non-binary youth have seriously considered suicide. Further, LGBTQ young people struggle to find jobs, access health care and feel safe in their schools. This is simply unacceptable. Our City must prioritize combatting these appalling statistics and taking care of our valuable LGBTQ young people. To do so, first and foremost a Yang administration will:
Continue the Work of the NYC UNITY Project
In 2017, First Lady Chirlane McCray launched the NYC Unity Project, which brought together 16 City agencies to further NYC’s offerings for LGBTQ youth. It made important commitments to expanding mental health and suicide prevention, ensuring single-occupancy restrooms in City schools, promoting healthy relationships, making sex-ed more inclusive, supporting school GSAs, offering tailored career services, and expanding services for LGBTQ homeless youth. A Yang administration will make the NYC Unity Project permanent and ensure it receives enough funding to continue its great work. Specifically, to further the mission of the NYC UNITY Project Andrew Yang will:
- Increase support for runaway and homeless LGBTQ young people and LGBTQ youth in foster care by recruiting and training LGBTQ affirming foster parents, making our basic income program available to young people who live independently, and building more LGBTQ focused shelters, drop-in sites, transitional housing programs, and supportive housing sites
- Get at-risk LGBTQ youth employed by doubling down on the NYC Unity Works program
- Make sure LGBTQ youth are healthy both mentally and physically, by increasing mental health support in schools and access to PrEP, PEP, and HIV testing and counseling for uninsured people
- Ensure schools are positive environments for LGBTQ youth by instituting anti-bullying and DEI initiatives and guaranteeing gender-neutral bathrooms
- Support the cultural and nightlife institutions that provide safe spaces and community for LGBTQ youth
I) Runaway, Homeless, & Foster LGBTQ-Youth
To increase support for runaway and homeless LGBTQ young people and youth in foster care, an Andrew Yang administration will:
Add More Than 100 Beds A Year for LGBTQ Youth and Young Adults
In 2017, the NYC Department of Homeless Services, in partnership with Council Member Ritchie Torres, opened Marsha’s House. Named for the trail-blazing activist, Marsha P. Johnson, Marsha’s House is the first LGBTQ-specific shelter in the adult system. It offers shelter to nearly 90 homeless young adults, 18-30, offering a supportive space with a number of services and resources focused on the LGBTQ community. Marsha’s House will receive the support of an Andrew Yang administration. Further, Andrew Yang is committed to adding more than 100 beds a year to address the homelessness crisis among LGBTQ youth. A Yang administration will particularly focus on shelter models and supportive housing that have been shown to effectively move people out of homelessness.
Double the Number of Drop-in Site & Designate Two More LGBT-Focused Drop-In Sites
The Ali Forney Center was the City and the nation’s first 24-hour drop-in program for homeless LGBTQ youth and has provided crucial support for this community. Andrew Yang has already committed to doubling the number of drop-in sites that offer food, clothing, showers, and other social services to homeless New Yorkers. An Andrew Yang administration will pursue designating two of these new drop-in sites, as LGBTQ-youth focused, modeled on the Ali Forney Center, and offering LGBTQ-youth-specific services including mental health care, support groups, and HIV counseling and testing.
You can read more about our plan to heal the homelessness crisis here.
Expand the Transitional Housing Program
The City provides homeless youth in the transitional housing program with up to two years of accommodation and programming including, educational support, vocational training, job placement, basic life skills training, mental health services, and housing referrals and placements for after the program. These programs are incredibly valuable and an Andrew Yang administration would like to see them expanded to meet the needs of all of New York’s homeless youth. The Ali Forney Center currently has 58 transitional housing beds in its program specifically designed for LGBTQ homeless and runaway youth. Andrew Yang is committed to significantly expanding the number of transitional housing beds available in LGBTQ-focused programs like the one run by the Ali Forney Center.
Show Up for LGBTQ Foster Youth
A recent survey found that a third of NYC foster youth identify as LGBTQ. Many of these young people have entered the system after being rejected by their families because of their identity. LGBTQ foster youth were also found to be more likely to end up in group homes and residential facilities, rather than family-based homes. Foster youth, however, tend to do better in family-based homes. LGBTQ foster youth deserve the same family support as their non-LGBTQ peers. Administration for Children’s Services has done good work to offer resources for LGBTQ youth and train staff on the particular issues faced by the LGBTQ community. In January, they came out with an Action Plan to support LGBTQ youth in foster care. As mayor, Andrew Yang will follow through on the action steps listed in this plan. In particular, a Yang administration will focus on recruiting more LGBTQ-affirming foster parents and offering a training program for foster families through Planned Parenthood of New York and therapeutic services through the Ackerman’s Gender Family Project. A Yang administration will also advocate for increasing the availability of parenting classes specifically focused on parenting LGBTQ children to help prevent the influx of LGBTQ youth into the foster care system in the first place.
Expand Eligibility for CityFHEPS To Automatically Include Youth Aging Out of Foster Care and Runaway and Homeless Youth
CityFHEPS is a rental assistance supplement that helps individuals and families facing eviction and homelessness find and maintain housing. Andrew Yang will expand CityFHEPS eligibility criteria to automatically include youth aging out of foster care and those receiving shelter or other services from the the Department of Youth and Community Development’s Homeless and Runaway Youth program for more than 90 days, many of whom are LGBTQ. These vouchers can play a crucial role in keeping vulnerable young people in stable housing.
Make Basic Income Available for Youth Living Independently
It can often be difficult for young people 21 and under to access government benefits, even when they live independently and are in great need of support. An Andrew Yang administration will ensure that youth who live independently and who meet the criteria for a basic income, will be able to apply for and receive cash relief under Yang’s basic income program.
You can read more about our basic income program here.
LGBTQ people face high rates of employment discrimination and are often paid less than their non-LGBTQ peers. The pandemic has hit at-risk LGBTQ youth particularly hard. The Ali Forney Center reports that 90% of the young people they work with have lost their jobs during COVID. To ensure that at-risk LGBTQ young adults in New York can find fulfilling and well-paid employment, an Andrew Yang administration will:
Double the City’s Commitment to NYC Unity Works
After a pause due to the financial constraints of the pandemic, the City recently announced the commencement of the NYC Unity Works program in conjunction with the Ali Forney Center. It will be the nation’s largest and most comprehensive workforce development program for LGBTQ youth. Beginning this summer, LGBTQ youth who are homeless or at high risk for homelessness will begin in the program. NYC Unity Works will offer these young people work skills training, mental health support, and help make connections for career placement. The City has committed to funding the program with $2.6 million over the next five years and plans to offer up to 90 spots in the program. An Andrew Yang administration will double down on this commitment, offering $5 million in funding for the program and will at least double the number of available spots. Andrew Yang will also work with the private sector to find employment opportunities for NYC Unity Works program participants at LGBTQ-affirming workplaces.
To improve both mental and physical healthcare for LGBTQ youth, Andrew Yang will:
Expand Access to Mental Healthcare
LGBTQ youth face appallingly high rates of struggles with mental health. One study found that LGBTQ youth consider suicide at nearly three times the rate of their heterosexual and cisgender peers. Another study found that almost 40% of LGBTQ youth have seriously considered suicide with that number going up to more than half among transgender and non-binary youth. These alarming statistics merit a strong response. A Yang administration is committed to providing critical mental health services to this population of New Yorkers. School-based health centers (SBHCs) can provide vital mental health services at the place where young people spend the bulk of their time. A Yang administration will embark on a significant expansion of SBHCs. Andrew Yang will also empower teachers, who know young people particularly well, to refer students they are concerned about to mental health services. Further, when mental health crises do arise, it’s important that young people can get the help that they need without relying solely on the police, who may not be best suited to handle the situation. A Yang administration will dramatically expand the availability of non-police response for New Yorkers in distress by expanding HOME-STAT, investing in community safety efforts at the local level, and empowering neighborhood networks of rapid response providers to get people in distress the care that they need.
You can read more about our mental health plan here
Ensure that all LGBTQ New Yorkers can get PrEP, PEP, and HIV Testing and Counseling
There are many programs in NYC that help LGBTQ people access PrEP. The state also runs the PrEP-AP program which reimburses providers for offering services including HIV testing and counseling to high-risk individuals and provides PrEP to uninsured patients. A Yang administration will seek to ensure that this program is widely known about and being utilized by all who need it. Andrew Yang will also explore restarting the City’s StaySure public information campaign which saw significant success, with one survey finding that for 75% of respondents the ads were the first time they had heard about PrEP. Further, Andrew Yang will call for increased support for uninsured individuals who need PEP, the emergency drug that can be used 72 hours after possible HIV exposure. Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, we can finally stop the transmission of HIV once and for all.
To ensure New York City schools are a nurturing environment for LGBTQ youth, Andrew Yang will:
Institute Anti-Bullying and DEI Programs in Schools
Schools should be nurturing and supportive places for all students. To make sure that LGBTQ youth feel safe where they learn, an Andrew Yang administration will promote anti-bullying and DEI programs that can help educate both teachers and students and build communities that make all of our children feel understood, welcomed, and appreciated for being their unique selves. Andrew Yang will also ensure that New York’s Dignity in Our Schools Act, which requires that all New York public schools provide students with an environment free of discrimination and harassment, is being fully implemented and enforced in schools citywide.
Guarantee Gender-Inclusive Bathrooms in Schools
To further ensure that all LGBTQ youth feel comfortable at school, a Yang administration will make sure that all City schools are complying with State law and City policy by having at least one single-use gender-inclusive bathroom that is located in an accessible location in the school available to students. A Yang administration will also work with schools where one gender-inclusive bathroom hasn’t been adequate to make more available to students.
V) Cultural Revival
Nightlife and cultural institutions, many of which have been ravaged by the COVID pandemic, have historical and contemporary importance to New York’s LGBTQ community and provide a crucial venue for LGBTQ young people to find support and community. To ensure that these institutions are able to survive the pandemic, an Andrew Yang administration will:
Help the nightlife industry to come back by:
- Appointing a Deputy Mayor of Entertainment, Nightlife and Culture
- Securing CARES Act funding for local venues
- Supporting operators, workers, performers, and DJs and building jobs in the industry
- Advocating to reduce SLA red tape
- Finding solutions to help build relationships with local communities to sustain a thriving nightlife, arts, entertainment and culture ecosystem’
You can read more about our plan for this industry here.
Support the arts, cultural, and entertainment sector by:
- Facilitating faster recovery by addressing quality of life issues and public safety to instill confidence in New Yorkers and tourists across the country, and around the world, that NYC is open for business, including investing in vaccine verification tools.
- Bringing back tourists by launching the largest marketing campaign in NYC history with NYC & Co and industry stakeholders.
- Protecting workers by establishing a portable benefits fund for freelancers and independent contractors and advocating for a “Save our Stages, Take 2” that is focused on getting cash to workers.
- Orienting city agencies to take a culture friendly approach toward venues, business and communities. Working to find common ground in communities and cultivate a NYC that supports artists throughout their careers.
You can read more about our plan for these industries here.