NEW YORK -- Pop singer Cyndi Lauper and her colleagues will be opening a shelter for LGBT young people on Friday, Sept. 9.
The gay icon’s shelter on West 154th Street in Harlem will be called True Colors Residence and will support young people who have been kicked out of their homes and disowned by their parents or guardians.
An estimated 3,000 to 8,000 LGBT youths are homeless in New York City, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
“In New York City, a very disproportionate number (up to 40%), of homeless youth identify as LGBT,” Lauper said in a letter to supporters published online. “Even more disturbing are reports that these young people often face discrimination and at times physical assault in some of the very places they have to for help. This is shocking and inexcusable!”
"Kids are coming out in greater numbers as they see themselves accepted and represented on TV and in movies, but they're still being kicked out of their homes or running away and living on the streets,” Lauper said in a statement.
“We need to make sure we're taking care of them. This is the next generation of the LGBT community."
The six-story, energy-efficient building will have 30 studio apartments, a computer room, a library and communal space. Residents, who must be between the ages of 18 and 24, will pay rent based on income, according to Section 8 rules.
“Our primary goal is to provide a physically and emotionally safe and supportive environment that will empower our young residents to be the self-loving, happy, and successful individuals they were meant to be,” Lauper said in the online letter.
Organizers originally hoped that the shelter would be operational by winter 2011, but construction that began in February 2010 was completed early.
True Colors Residence is the vision of Lauper, her publicist Lisa Barbaris, and Colleen Jackson of the West End Intergenerational Residence. They said they recognized a need for a safe place for homeless LGBT youths, who often face discrimination and violence in mainstream or religion-sponsored shelters. They also were aware that most programs for homeless youth end coverage at age 18, often leaving them back on the streets where they may be tempted to turn to prostitution and drugs to survive.
Lauper donated money to the shelter through her True Colors Fund. The start-up cost was estimated at $11 million, and most of the funding was provided by New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Additional monies were raised from other city and state sources and via corporate donations.