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.
Kate Barnhart 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 Executive Director of New Alternatives for LGBTQ+ Homeless Youth, an organization she founded in October 2008. In her free time, Ms. Barnhart rescues and rehabilitates stray cats.
Johnnie, a licensed social worker, graduated from The Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. Their first exposure to working with homeless youth came as a kitchen volunteer at New Alternatives in 2014. Now, Johnnie provides mental health counseling services for clients in need and intensive case management for our HIV+ clients. They also visit with hospitalized and incarcerated clients in addition to providing alcohol and substance abuse counseling. Prior to joining New Alternatives, Johnnie was a psychotherapist at GMHC and a mentor with The McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research’s Step-Up program, working with at risk youth in the Bronx. In their spare time, Johnnie is both a Peer Counselor at Identity House and a Youth Counselor at The Ali Forney Center.
Misty Padilla is a former homeless youth who is now the Program Assistant at New Alternatives. She previously interned at Sylvia's Place, a shelter for LGBTQ+ youth, and is also a member of Fountain House, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to the recovery of men and women with mental illnesses. She is proud to be a role model for the clients at New Alternatives.
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: