Last Sunday we posted on an article in the New York Times criticizing and calling into question the licensing and safety of Sylvia’s Place, a shelter for LGBTQ youth operated out of Metropolitan Community Church of New York. This is their response:
Contact: William Morán-Berberena, Executive Director, MCCNY Charities, Inc.
On Sunday, November 6, 2011 The New York Times printed a story written by Village Voice staff writer Steven Thrasher entitled “A Church. A Shelter. Is It Safe?” The story relied on factual errors and hearsay to depict MCCNY Homeless Youth Services: Sylvia’s Place as an unfit shelter for LGBTQI youth. The motive for this story was not the safety of LGBTQI youth who rely on the shelter, mental health services, food and care that Sylvia’s Place provides 365 days a year. It was money and ego-driven self-promotion.
The article was the most recent tactic in an ongoing campaign to discredit Sylvia’s Place, in order to block the payment of a bequest that was written to Sylvia’s Place several years ago. Mr. Thrasher is a tool in this campaign.
You should know what Mr. Thrasher already knows: Sylvia’s Place has never had rats. Sylvia’s Place has air conditioning. When inspected by the FDNY, not one fire code violation was found on the ground floor: the only floor on which Sylvia’s Place operates. The Metropolitan Community Church of New York, MCCNY Charities, Inc. and Sylvia’s Place are in good standing with all pertinent government agencies, and have documentation to prove compliance. Troublingly, while writing the story, Mr. Thrasher was able to receive constant information from the FDNY, while all MCCNY Charities, Inc.’s inquiries to the FDNY have been relegated to long and slow legal processes.
Mr. Thrasher himself was responsible for contacting government offices when he was unable to substantiate any of his own claims of programmatic or structural non-compliance. Failing in this aim, Mr. Thrasher relied on unfounded rumors to construct his account. and made no attempt to contact the hundreds of youth who are more than willing to share how their time spent at Sylvia’s Place was safe and clean and how Sylvia’s Place staff helped them get a job, helped them through college and changed their lives for good.
MCCNY Charities, Inc. has issued a letter of retraction to The New York Times, which is available for review.
To submit a letter to the editor, e-mail your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
At a time of uprising against the greed and inequity in our society, it is important to remember that the LGBTQI community is not immune from these ills. Sylvia’s Place, MCCNY and MCCNY Charities, Inc. have always been grassroots operations committed to the mission of building right relationship rather than achieving fame. It is unfortunate that Mr. Thrasher and The Times were fooled by a power play, and dangerous for them to use government agencies to their own ends.
Other LGBTQI youth programs have referred youth in crisis to Sylvia’s Place for years, and continue to do so. MCCNY and MCCNY Charities, Inc. continues to do the work of bringing the world to just and right relationship. Today and every day, we offer mental health services, shelter, case management, food, clothing and community to LGBTQI runaway and homeless youth in need.
We are thrilled to announce the launch of our new website www.mccnycharities.org. Click here to find out more about what’s new at MCCNY Charities, Inc. and how you can get involved with the good work of MCCNY Charities, Inc!