This past Monday evening, I attended a fantastic rally in Washington Square Park (New York City) organized by the National Campaign for Youth Shelter (NCYS). NCYS, a collaborative project of the National Coalition for the Homeless and the Ali Forney Center, aims to bring greater national attention to youth homelessness.
A diverse and impressive group of speakers—including Edie Windsor, Carl Siciliano, the Reverend Melvin Miller, Wade Davis, Chris Bilal, Jennifer Louise Lopez, and David Mixner—spoke passionately about the challenges faced by homeless youth, including those who are LGBTQ, and about the need to protect and provide care for them. Junior Labeija, pictured above with Edie Windsor, emceed the event.
I took videos of most of the speakers and have embedded them in three posts on this blog. At the end of this first post, I’ve included videos of Edie Windsor, Chris Bilal, the Reverend Melvin Miller, and Jennifer Louise Lopez. In a second post, you’ll find videos of David Mixner, Cathy Marino-Thomas, Emanuel Xavier, and Martin Boyce. The third post has videos of Wade Davis, Carl Siciliano, Mark Herrington, and Jerry Jones; I’ve also included a video in the third post of some young dancers who took the stage shortly before the rally began.
The NCYS’s website lists the campaign’s three main demands:
1. A federal commitment to provide ALL young people, ages 24 and under, with immediate access to safe shelter, affirming the principle that no young person in the United States should be left homeless in the streets.
2. An immediate commitment to add 22,000 shelter beds along with appropriate services – a five-fold increase over the current level of resources.
3. A more accurate and comprehensive effort to count the number of homeless youth in the nation in order to determine the number of beds that are needed over the next decade.
The site also lists dozens of organizational “endorsers,” including LGBT equality groups (like Campus Pride, GLAAD, GLSEN, and the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund), health and HIV/AIDS-related groups (like Gay Men’s Health Crisis and Treatment Action Group), children’s organizations (like the Child Welfare League of America), religious groups (like Congregation Beit Simchat Torah and LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent), and organizations focused on poverty, economic justice, and homelessness (like the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and the National Low Income Housing Coalition).
Videos of Edie Windsor, Chris Bilal, the Reverend Melvin Miller, and Jennifer Louise Lopez appear below.