Activists, elected officials protest proposed cuts to homeless youth programs
Juan Valdez literally remains out in the cold.
The 21-year-old from Orlando, Florida, has been homeless since he arrived in New York City eight months ago. Valdez’s parents kicked him out of their home. And he told EDGE he now sleeps with what he described as "a whole bunch of ex-convicts" looking for sex.
"I’ve been homeless the whole time I’ve been here," said Valdez.
Valdez literally shivered alongside more than a hundred activists and elected officials on the steps of City Hall in lower Manhattan on Tuesday, Dec. 21, to protest Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed cuts to homeless youth programs. As EDGE reported earlier this month, the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development plans to slash funding for drop-in shelters and street outreach by 50 percent.
"The city knows, the Bloomberg administration knows that every night 3,800 young people are sleeping homeless on our streets-they know this because they released it in their own report," said Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, referring to the report the mayor’s Commission for LGBTQ Runaway and Homeless Youth released in June that recommended more outreach and other services. "The city knows, the Bloomberg administration knows that hundreds of kids have to survive by prostituting every night-they know because they released it in their own report in June."
City Councilmember Lew Fidler [D-Brooklyn] once again blasted Bloomberg for the proposed cuts.
"I don’t possibly understand how that can be an acceptable choice," stressed Fidler. "It’s disgusting and frankly it’s beyond contempt."
City Councilmember Letitia James [D-Brooklyn] used the growing scandal over four consultants who allegedly embezzled $80 million from a company the city contracted to automate its’ payroll system to mock Bloomberg.