New Alternatives increases the self-sufficiency of LGBTQ+ homeless youth and young adults by enabling them to transition out of the shelter system to stable adult lives. We do this by providing long-term support, weekly case management, education services, life skills training, community-building recreational activities, opportunities for self-expression, and programs for HIV+ youth. Our guiding principles are those of harm reduction, youth development, and empowerment.
THE LGBTQ+ YOUTH CRISIS
Recent studies indicate that LGBTQ+ youth comprise nearly 40% of the homeless youth population in New York City. At an estimated 7% of the total youth population, young people in our community are disproportionately affected by homelessness and are more likely to experience bullying, sexual assault, violence, trauma, HIV infection, mental health disorders, and substance abuse than their heterosexual peers.
Every night, hundreds of LGBTQ+ youth and young adults have no place to call home in NYC. Whether they have been kicked out by homophobic relatives, forced to flee conservative communities, aged out of foster care, or come from families torn apart by poverty and drug abuse, these young people sleep in city parks, on the subway, and in public facilities like Port Authority and Penn Station. A fortunate few might find a safe haven in one of NYC’s housing programs or shelters designed for this population, but such facilities are scarce and so underfunded that most youth wait months to gain entry. Others are subjected to shelter in large, city-funded institutions where they frequently fall victim to homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, harassment, and violence.
New Alternatives is advocating for change. We are dedicated to the care and well-being of these young people and are at the forefront of combating the epidemic of poverty and homelessness in New York City's LGBTQ+ youth population. We aim to provide all youth who come to us for support with the tools and resources they need to thrive.
New Alternatives provides a range of services designed to help LGBTQ+ youth succeed in transitioning to stable adult lives and welcomes all youth as they are with no barriers to entry.
Nutritious homemade meals, distribution of hygiene supplies, emergency clothing, MetroCards, urgent referrals for shelter, and referrals for primary care and psychiatric support are all part of the ways we meet the essential needs of homeless youth.
This is the place for young people to bring their problems. None are too big or small. Arrest warrants, finding a long-lost relative, applying for disability benefits, returning to high school or college, back taxes... We help with all of it!
College tours, barbecues, camping, beach trips, apple picking, holiday celebrations, and trips to conferences are just some of the many activities that we offer throughout the year.
We strive to ensure all youth have the opportunity to learn. Our volunteer tutors are always on hand to assist with GED and SAT preparation, college applications, and financial aid paperwork.
Life Skills Training
Whether the topic is HIV prevention, anger management, nutrition, or conflict resolution, the skills discussed in our weekly life skills group are relevant and vital to the success of our clients.
Creative writing and video groups give our youth the chance to express themselves and share their experiences in an artistic and therapeutic way.
Testing and Prevention
New Alternatives provides onsite STI testing and referrals for comprehensive health services through our partnership with Project Stay. Project STAY is administered jointly by the New York Presbyterian Hospital Ambulatory Care Network Corporation and the Harlem Health Promotion Center (HHPC) within the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
Founder & Director
Kate is a long-time AIDS activist and member of ACT UP/NY who has engaged in numerous acts of civil disobedience protesting issues related to HIV/AIDS, healthcare, and police brutality. She has worked with at-risk youth since 1994, including six years working with young felons at CASES, an alternative-to-incarceration program. Since 2001, she has worked with homeless LGBTQ+ youth. She spent five years serving as Director of Sylvia's Place, an emergency shelter for LGBTQ+ homeless youth, and is currently the Director of New Alternatives for LGBTQ+ Homeless Youth, which she founded in October 2008. In her free time, she rescues and rehabilitates stray cats.
Mica is a licensed social worker who has spent many years abroad in London and Tokyo working in the mental health field. She has a focus on supporting LGBTQ+ youth, raising suicide awareness, and addressing interpersonal violence. As the social worker at New Alternatives, she provides case management and therapy services to our clients. In her free time, she believes in trying as many new things as possible, from tarot card reading to conversational Spanish to creative writing.
Ray Dietz is our Office Manager, responsible for handling daily operations and keeping the office running smoothly. In their free time, they enjoy reading, writing, drawing, and playing board games.
Dilo is a former client who has become a member of our Outreach Team. Starting on the Security Team, he now spends his days going out into the community to meet and check in on clients. When doing this type of work, he believes in being approachable and making sure people feel heard and respected. In his free time, he enjoys scuba diving and anything involving the beach.
Harley is our Administrative Assistant and spends much of her time in the office, but she sees herself as a “jack of all trades.” Starting as a volunteer, she decided to become a staff member as her love for our clients grew. If anyone needs her help, she always does everything she can to meet their needs. In her free time, she paints, writes poetry, and plays with her dog.
Maurice is a member of our Security Team and has been working with New Alternatives for nearly a decade. Prior to his time with us, he worked at a food pantry with his church. His pastor recommended that he join the team, and Maurice has proven to be a great addition. In his free time, he enjoys biking, listening to music, and spending time with his godchildren.
Outreach & Recreation Assistant
Ramon is a former homeless youth who started volunteering with New Alternatives when it first began. Since joining the staff in 2018, he has become our Outreach & Recreation Assistant. In this role, he goes to fundraising events, reaches out to prospective clients, plans trips and outings, and goes to city council meetings. In his free time, he enjoys watching his favorite hockey team, the Rangers.
MISTY ELLEN PADILLA
Misty is a former homeless youth and is now an Executive Assistant to the Director of New Alternatives. In her role, she oversees housing coordination as well as trip and event planning. She is a former resident and intern of Sylvia’s Place, a shelter for LGBTQ+ youth, and is also a member of Fountain House, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to mental health. In her free time, Misty likes to dance, paint, crochet, play video games, and sing.
Eduardo is a member of our Maintenance Team. He receives and sends out deliveries and does various tasks around the office. He joined New Alternatives to learn new skills and become more educated on the diversity of cultures in the community. In his free time, he volunteers and meditates by the water.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Our funders are as diverse and varied as the community we serve, and we are truly thankful for all of the foundations and organizations that continue to demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of LGBTQ+ homeless youth. We gratefully acknowledge our most generous supporters: