Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

LGBT youths face loss of services in SF

Several San Francisco groups that serve LGBT youth are facing cuts that would greatly hurt their efforts.

The potential funding problems are part of discussions around the city’s budget for 2010-11, which is currently being worked out by the Board of Supervisors.

The looming losses come at a time when the city’s facing tough choices about many programs. On June 1, Mayor Gavin Newsom proposed a $6.48 billion budget that closes a projected city deficit of $482.7 million. The city’s fiscal year begins Thursday, July 1.

The LGBT transitional age youth services at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, which is among the service providers facing cuts, works with people ages 18-24 who’re homeless or marginally housed.

According to the center, the cuts would mean elimination of the program, which provides meals and clothing, as well as links to employment and HIV testing, among other services.

The meals and other services are endangered because the city’s Department of Children, Youth and Their Families is not making available any funding outside the limited workforce development funds for transitional age youth. However, the center, which is seeking $96,000 to continue the meals and similar services, is set to receive money from the department for work it’s doing in schools.

Rebecca Rolfe, the center’s executive director, said that unstable funding makes the program vulnerable every year, and the fiscal instability “contributes to the sense that transitional aged youth are not worthy of support.”

She said many of these youth have already gotten the message that they’re not important from their families, and many of them have come out of foster care.

Tiamara Whetstone (pictured at right), who’s transgender, said the center’s internship program – which is among the services that would be lost – has allowed her to connect with other LGBT youth, which she’d never been able to do before.

“In the six months here at the internship, I’ve been exposed to the community more than I have in 24 years of living,” said Whetstone.

Maria Su, executive director of the children, youth, and families department, appeared sympathetic to the center’s needs, but said her agency received close to $71 million in requests for services from kindergarten all the way up to transitional aged youth for next year, “and we only had $20 million available.

Jodi Schwartz, executive director of the Lavender Youth, Recreation, and Information Center, said her group is facing reductions of about $475,000 next year and more in the future because many of the city’s recent funding decisions apply to multiple-year funding cycles.

Schwartz said the cut’s coming from multiple places, but the most severe cuts are coming from children, youth and families department, as well as the Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

Neither Su nor the workforce development office confirmed the figure.

Schwartz said her group, which is hoping for an additional $180,000 for next year, is trying to develop a multi-pronged strategy “to allow us to have the next year to really look at new funding streams and strategies to ensure that LYRIC exists for another 20 years, because as I always say, new queer youth come out every day and they’re going to need a place like LYRIC.”

Openly gay Supervisors David Campos, who’s on the board’s budget and finance committee, and Bevan Dufty are helping the LGBT center, LYRIC, and other groups advocate for funding.

Dufty said funding from the children, youth, and families department has traditionally been limited to people under 18, and they’ve used a blend of funding for children with general fund money in order to provide services for LGBT youths as old as 24.

“These are pretty significant impacts when the general fund is squeezed like it is this year,” said Dufty. “The impact is heavy on this population.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 28, 2010 @ 5:01 pm PST
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