Reps. Espaillat, Serrano, Engel, and Crowley Urge Mayor de Blasio to Open LGBT Community Center in the Bronx

December 15, 2017
Press Release
Bronx is only Borough in NYC without an LGBT Community Center; Bronx Members also Urge Mayor to Address Other LGBT Needs As It Sets Priorities for Second Term

Washington, DC – Bronx Representatives Serrano, Engel, Crowley, and Espaillat today sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio urging him to make a priority addressing the LGBT community needs a priority in his upcoming terms as Mayor. Among the recommendations, the members emphasized the need to open an LGBT community center in the Bronx – the only borough that doesn’t have one to this date. The members also urged Mayor de Blasio to address the issues of homelessness and other housing needs that affect the LGBT community and those who are gender non-conforming (TGNC), particularly teenagers; as well as the rise in violence and other human rights violations against LGBT people.

“[T]he Bronx remains without an LGBTQ Community Center, and continues to be the sole borough in New York City without one. As you may know, community centers play a vital role in enriching the lives of residents and the neighborhoods they call home. Whether providing easy access to quality, safe programs and services or directing families to the appropriate channels to receive the much-needed assistance they are seeking, community centers are a crucial safety net for many. We strongly believe that no one should be forced to travel outside of their neighborhood in order to obtain essential care readily accessible in neighboring communities. For these reasons, we ask that you work to improve LGBTQ services in the Bronx by helping open an LGBTQ community center,” the members wrote.


FULL TEXT OF THE LETTER BELOW / PDF ATTACHED:

December 14, 2017

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

Thank you for all that your administration has done to date with regard to helping the LGBTQ community in our city.  Great progress has been made in the past several years at both the national and local levels, and we appreciate your role in helping our constituents.  As you begin to set priorities for your second term in office, we hope you will consider these issues important to our LGBTQ constituents in the Bronx.

First, the Bronx remains without an LGBTQ Community Center, and continues to be the sole borough in New York City without one. As you may know, community centers play a vital role in enriching the lives of residents and the neighborhoods they call home. Whether providing easy access to quality, safe programs and services or directing families to the appropriate channels to receive the much-needed assistance they are seeking, community centers are a crucial safety net for many. We strongly believe that no one should be forced to travel outside of their neighborhood in order to obtain essential care readily accessible in neighboring communities. For these reasons, we ask that you work to improve LGBTQ services in the Bronx by helping open an LGBTQ community center.

We would also like to stress the overwhelming experience of homelessness that transgender and those who are gender non-conforming (TGNC) face within our City. As you may know, TGNC individuals are more than twice as likely to experience homelessness as those who are non-transgender. Unfortunately, a significant amount of the City’s TGNC homeless population are teenagers. Typically, these individuals become homeless under traumatic family circumstances, including being thrown out of their homes, being abandoned, or because they feel forced to run away. According to the Human Rights Campaign in 2017, across the nation 27 TGNC individuals were brutally murdered and most victims TGNC people of color.  It is clear that we must act to address the devastating impact violence has on TGNC individuals and their families.  A recent study authored by Strength in Numbers and published by the LGBT Health and Human Services Needs showed that both people of color and TGNC individuals were much more likely to experience homelessness at some point in their lives relative to their white and non-TGNC counterparts. 

Right now, New York City only has one LGBTQ-specific shelter, Marsha’s House, and it only has 90 beds, which falls well below meeting the needs of the LGBTQ homeless community. It is for these reasons that we ask the City to take greater strides to ensure everyone has equal access to affordable and supportive housing regardless of their socioeconomic background, gender, or sexual orientation.

It is important to recognize the structural and systemic barriers that both LGBTQ and TGNC people face especially those of color who are disproportionately marginalized. Additionally, we must remain steadfast and committed to implementing programs that seek to address and remove these harmful obstacles. This can only be accomplished by working with those who directly understand the challenging times we currently find ourselves in.

With that, we ask that as the City begins implementing policies to address TGNC specific housing needs, that it strongly considers employing members of the LGBTQ community and collaborate with local LGBTQ community leaders and activists to establish LGBTQ specific housing projects.  Lastly, we ask that wherever possible priority be given to people of color and those who are historically marginalized – since many of these individuals are our constituents.
  

We appreciate all the steps taken over the past four years, and we look forward to working with you to protect the lives and livelihoods of our LGBTQ constituents in the Bronx. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter and we look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

 

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First elected to Congress in 2016, Rep. Adriano Espaillat is serving his first term in Congress where he serves as a member of the influential U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and the House Select Committee on Small Business.  He is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and serves in a leadership role as CHC Freshman Representative to the Democratic Caucus. He is also chairman of the CHC Task Force for Transportation, Infrastructure and Housing.  Rep. Espaillat’s Congressional District includes Harlem, East Harlem, northern Manhattan and the north-west Bronx. To find out more about Rep. Espaillat, visit online at https://espaillat.house.gov/.

Media inquiries: Candace Randle Person at Candace.Person@mail.house.gov