Lawsuit Could Change Fate of New York City’s Homeless Youth

Newsweek chatted with two of the lawyers working on the case that might change youth homelessness in New York City, the Legal Aid Society's Beth Hofmeister and Kimberly Forte.

Interview (New York)

Victoria Bekiempis
November 8, 2015

Tags: Homeless Youth

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Aid Society (New York City)


Several recent reports have brought attention to the perils faced by homeless youth. In one study, authors discussed data indicating that some 25 percent have traded sex for shelter—and that lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth were seven times more likely to have engaged in “survival sex.” Another Urban Institute study, “Locked In: Interactions With the Criminal Justice and Child Welfare Systems for LGBTQ Youth, YMSM, and YWSW Who Engage in Survival Sex,” found that 71 percent of the youth surveyed had dealt with some sort of “run-in” with cops. Most of these run-ins involved some aspect of stop, question and frisk.

The lawsuit maintains that all homeless and runaway youth in New York City have a right to age-specific shelter beds. Unlike adults and families, who can stay indefinitely in shelter, homeless youth are only permitted to stay up to 60 days in beds specific to their demographic, the lawyers claim. The federal lawsuit, filed by Legal Aid Society and Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, is in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York.