New York City has taken sudden and drastic measures to contain the new coronavirus. As of Monday, public schools are now closed, and bars and restaurants are limited to takeout and delivery, per The New York Times. Major organizations and events are shutting down until further notice, including the Met Museum.
But there’s one LGBTQ+ organization in New York City that can’t shut down and send everyone home, no matter what happens.
The Ali Forney Center is a LGBTQ+ community center that operates several shelters for LGBTQ+ youth in New York City. Founded in 2002, the organization is the largest agency dedicated to LGBTQ+ homeless youth in the country.
In a statement, President and Executive Director Alexander Roque let supporters know that they can’t close like other organizations.
“With the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), many service organizations are understandably making the difficult decision to temporarily suspend their onsite services,” Roque wrote. “This is not possible for the Ali Forney Center. We cannot close and ask our clients to call from home. We are their home.”
The statement continued, “For LGBTQ youth experiencing the terrors of homelessness, we are their first responders. And now they need us more than ever.”
Roque explained the organization’s plans to limit youths’ exposure to the virus while also keeping them housed and safe. They will be suspending outside groups and volunteers from visiting, reorganizing programs so youths won’t have to travel between sites for services, and establishing quarantine zones in each center for sick or exposed young people.
In a time of fear and darkness due to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), we cannot close our doors to LGBTQ homeless youth and ask them to call from their home for services. We are their home. Find out how to support AFC in these challenging times. https://t.co/5l6aPaQDE7
— Ali Forney Center (@AliForneyCenter) March 13, 2020
There are over 700 confirmed coronaviruses cases in New York State as of Sunday. New York City has the largest concentration of cases at the moment, with 329 people testing positive so far.
Roque asked supporters to help the center in its efforts to keep LGBTQ+ youth safe through this pandemic by donating or sharing information with others. You can learn more about how to support the Ali Forney Center on their website.