Funding Approved to Convert E. Village Building to 'Bea Arthur' LGBT Home

By Serena Solomon on July 11, 2012 1:23pm 

The Cooper Square Committee recently received more than $3 million in funding to renovate 222 East 13th Street.
The Cooper Square Committee recently received more than $3 million in funding to renovate 222 East 13th Street.
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Cooper Square Committee

EAST VILLAGE — More than $3 million in funding has been approved to turn an abandoned East 13th Street building into a center for homeless LGBT youths named after gay-rights champion Bea Arthur.

The Cooper Square Committee received word last week that the city will provide most of the cash to renovate the building at 222 E. 13th St. into a home for up to 18 young people who identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered and would otherwise be on the streets.

The project, which will likely be completed by the end of 2013, is being done in collaboration with the Ali Forney Center (AFC), which works with homeless young people throughout the city.

The house will be named the Bea Arthur Residence after the late actress and comedian who had previously lent her talent to raise funds for the ACF.

"It is a safe neighborhood, and that is important for housing these kids,” said Steve Herrick, the executive director of the Cooper Square Committee, a local advocate of affordable housing. “We really wanted them to be in a home-like environment."

The $3 million in capital funding was approved in the recent city budget, EV Grieve first reported. Another $300,000 is on its way from Borough President Scott Stringer, according to Herrick and Stringer's office.

The house will likely include three apartments with three bedrooms, a kitchen and two bathrooms in each, according to the plans already drawn up. The street-level space will become an office and program center for the ACF.

"Homeless LGBT youth, most of whom have been cast out of their homes, have faced the worst kind of cruelty and rejection", said Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, in a statement.

Herrick and Siciliano have been working on the idea since early 2011, Herrick explained. Community Board 3 unanimously approved the concept in October, EV Grieve previously reported.

"That building has been siting vacant for 15 years, and a lot of people are just relieved someone has an idea to clean it up," Herrick said. 

An abandoned East 13th Street building will be turned into a center for homeless LGBT youths named after gay-rights champion Bea Arthur, here with actresses and former Golden Girls cast mates Betty White (l) and Rue McClanahan (r).
An abandoned East 13th Street building will be turned into a center for homeless LGBT youths named after gay-rights champion Bea Arthur, here with actresses and former Golden Girls cast mates Betty White (l) and Rue McClanahan (r).
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Kevin Winter/Getty Images for TV Land

The building is currently owned by the city, and will be jointly owned by the Cooper Square Committee and ACF after its expected approval as part of the city's public land use review process, according to Herrick.

Once renovations are completed, the ACF will be in control of the home's day-to-day operations. 

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