Neglected 13th St. Building To Receive $3 Million Upgrade for Gay Teens

IMG_2870Sarah Darville The vacant building at 222 East 13th Street.

A long-vacant and dilapidated building will become a safe haven for homeless gay, lesbian and transgender young people thanks to $3.3 million in grants from city officials and a crucial city approval.

The Cooper Square Committee and the Ali Forney Center plan to transform 222 East 13th Street, a three-story building owned by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, into the Bea Arthur Residence For L.G.B.T. Youth. Last week, the organizations found out that the City Council had allocated $3 million and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer had allocated an additional $300,000 to the project — money that will allow them to move ahead with renovations.

“Homeless L.G.B.T. 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, in a statement. “I am overwhelmed with gratitude that they are now being shown kindness by this community and its leaders.”

Bea Arthur & Angela LansburyAlan Light Bea Arthur, left, alongside Angela Lansbury.

The city still owns the building, but Steve Herrick, executive director of the Cooper Square Committee, told The Local that he was confident that the proposal was on its way to reality after the city told him that “they would be putting it in the pipeline.” The Committee has also gotten a letter of site control from the city, he said, indicating that it is comfortable with the organizations’ plans and budgets.

The renovations should cheer neighbors up as well. The building, owned by the city since 1993, has been vacant and neglected for decades after a violent past, which led to EV Grieve dubbing it haunted.

The Ali Forney Center first developed plans for the housing following a $300,000 gift left by the late Bea Arthur in her will. Once the building opens, it will host up to 18 kids.

“The kids that would live there are stable, they don’t need any kind of intense treatment,” Mr. Siciliano said last September. “They just need an opportunity to get back on their feet and move on with their lives.”