By Maria Rocha-Buschel
A new residence for homeless LGBT youth named in honor of an iconic Golden Girl opened in the East Village at the beginning of May.
That specific Golden Girl, Bea Arthur, was known as a strong advocate for the LGBT community and when she left the Ali Forney Center, an organization that advocates for homeless LGBT youth, $300,000 in her will after her death in 2009, executive director Carl Siciliano promised that he would name a building for the non-profit after her.
Siciliano said at the time that the donation helped the organization make payroll for months because it had been struggling due to the recession as well as a lack of donations. However, he announced the center’s intention to keep his promise in 2015 when the organization held a ground-breaking at the East 13th Street building between Second and Third Avenues. The property was previously a single-room occupancy (SRO) and crack house that had been vacant for almost 20 years.
The city-owned building was transferred to the Ali Forney Center in 2011 after a recommendation from Community Board 3 and the project was made possible through $3.3 million in contributions from City Council and then-Borough President Scott Stringer.