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New York City is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the world, and the birthplace of the country’s gay rights movement. But even so, many in the community, especially youth and transgender people, face housing discrimination and homelessness. Fortunately, there are several NYC organizations that can help with LGBTQ-centered housing needs.
LGBTQ youth make up to 40 percent of the city’s young homeless population, according to the Ali Forney Center and many transgender New Yorkers face housing discrimination when applying for apartments. Covid-19 certainly didn’t help the situation: According to an April report from NBC News, there’s been an increase in need, especially among LGBTQ youth that live with unsupportive families, and because many LGBTQ centers have moved their operations online, there’s less access to in-person services right now.
There is no shelter specifically for LGBTQ adults in NYC, but there are several, like the Ali Forney Center, that serve LGBTQ youth and young adults. However, all of the city’s housing assistance programs, including city shelters and rental assistance programs, are open to all New Yorkers in need, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. You can find a list of LGBT-friendly programs from The Center, NYC’s LGBTQ community center, including shelters and housing counseling.
If you do experience discrimination when you are using one of these city programs, or are discriminated against by a landlord or broker, the city’s Commission on Human Rights helps enforce the NYC Human Rights Law, which says “it is illegal to discriminate based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender.” If you are facing discrimination in housing or lending services, you can file a complaint with CHR.
Finding affordable, secure housing in NYC can be challenging, especially if you’re facing hardship or have specific needs. To make it a bit easier, here are eight housing-related services that can help if you need a temporary shelter, help finding a gay-friendly roommate, need legal assistance, and more.
Covenant House offers shelter and housing assistance to youths experiencing homelessness. Their NYC programs are LGBT-friendly, with 29 percent of their youths identifying as LGBT, according to their site. In addition to providing shelter for youths without a referral at their West 41st Street location, they also provide long-term housing assistance through their Right of Passage program, for young adults transitioning out of a shelter, as well as permanent housing support.
SAGE is the largest and oldest organization that works with LGBT seniors on issues related to aging, health, housing, and arts and culture programs. In New York City, they have a senior center offering holistic programs and other services at Stonewall House in Fort Greene, the city’s first affordable, LGBT-friendly senior housing development. New Yorkers who are 60 or older can reach out to their care management department for general housing resources and information.
Housing Works provides housing assistance to homeless New Yorkers living with HIV, including LGBT youth and transgender people living with HIV. It also provide housing to families that have a head-of-household living with HIV. Once someone is settled in their Housing Works house, the organization also provides healthcare and life-saving services. Some of their locations include Keith D. Cylar House in the East Village and Claremont Residence in the Bronx.
Operating since 1995, Rainbow Roommates is a roommate-matching service for the LGBT community in NYC, New Jersey, and Westchester. You can list your LGBT-friendly apartment or available room on the site, and you can also seek LGBT-friendly apartment shares and roommates. It cost $30 for a 15-day account and $50 for a month. After you fill out an application, they will send you listings that meet your budget and preferences, and you are able to email or talk to your prospective roommate before moving in. They also provide coaching, roommate guidelines, and sample roommate agreements to make the process easier.
New York Legal Assistance Group provides free legal services to people experiencing poverty for a variety of issues, including discrimination. For the LGBTQ community, they help with housing-related issues like housing discrimination due to your sexual orientation or gender identity and tenant’s rights issues like evictions. You can call NYLAG at 212-613-5000 for help with housing issues.
The Ali Forney Center was founded in honor of Ali Forney, a gender non-conforming New Yorker who lived in the city’s shelter system and was dedicated to helping other LGBTQ youth experiencing homeless until his murder in 1997. It provides housing assistance to homeless LGBTQ youth through a drop-in center, outreach, and programs. AFC has emergency housing locations in Brooklyn and Queens and transitional housing that helps youth find housing when leaving shelters. You can find more information on eligibility and how to reach out for help on their site.
Destination Tomorrow, the Bronx LGBTQ center, offers two different housing assistance programs. Their housing program helps LGBT people find housing that matches income and other needs. The center also advocates for affordable housing for the LGBT community. According to their site, their housing programs are in the works, but you can reach them for assistance at 646-723-3325 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Princess Janae Place was established in 2015 and is NYC’s only community-based housing organization led by and aimed at transgender and gender non-binary New Yorkers experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. They offer many programs that help navigate the real estate market, including how to find safe and affordable housing through city and state voucher programs, help with filling out housing applications, and referrals to pre-screened landlords and realtors.
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