Friday, February 20, 2009

Losing Gay Youth Centers

And forcing LGBT leaders out of their homes! That's what this economy -- and this government -- appears to be doing now. The pioneering organization Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Services (GLASS) in LA was forced to file for bankruptcy. Terri DeCrecenzo, who I have known for many years and who founded that place and fought for LGBT youth, may now lose her home to the IRS and American Express. This is a horrible injustice, and may be just the beginning of what will happen to LGBT service organizations as things get worse:

On Tuesday, the board of Glass Youth and Family Services in Los Angeles voted to file for bankruptcy protection, unable to overcome falling state reimbursements, rising costs and dwindling donations.

“We did everything we could to keep going,” said Teresa DeCrescenzo, executive director of the organization, which offers social services to gay, lesbian and transgender youth...

...“We have held out for more than a decade against moving to a group home model with 12 beds or more because we thought smaller homes create a family environment that was better for the kids,” Ms. DeCrescenzo said. “That was a mistake.”

American Express has been calling her repeatedly, she said, seeking payment of $100,000 that has been charged to the corporate credit card for hotel rooms for teenagers who had aged out of group homes; the company is also threatening to seek a lien against Ms. DeCrescenzo’s house.

The I.R.S. also wants her house because Glass has failed to pay its payroll taxes.

“The one thing I have is my home,” Ms. DeCrescenzo said, “and now I lay awake at night thinking someone is going to take it away from me.”