Newburgh LGBTQ+ Center gets state funding

Sen. James Skoufis, left, greeting center founder Rae Leiner

NEWBURGH –The Newburgh LGBTQ + Center, located at 102 South Williams Street, is the recipient of $100,000 in state funding.

The funding came through a line item Senator James Skoufis (D, Woodbury) secured during the budget process, rather than a traditional grant.

Specifically, the money will allow the center to provide for paid employees at the center where they currently have only volunteer staff.

Center Cofounder Rae Leiner said they desperately need an employee for administrative work, as well as for the number of programs the center hosts, but added finding a permanent home, even multiple locations, is the ideal goal.

The center is currently hosted by the Newburgh Community Photo project.

In addition to staffing, Leiner said they need a safe place to house people, which is very important to their mission.  He said they hope the funding will allow them to operate as they begin to diversify their fundraising strategies and work toward becoming a larger, all- inclusive community organization.

“We want multiple spaces,” said Leiner. “We want to make sure that LGBTQ folks have access to this affordable housing, but we also want to make sure that single mothers also have access to this housing. We want to make sure that people in the community, in general, are stabilized. We’ll start with us, but we’re not ending with us. We’re going to continue to build out into the community.”

Skoufis said it has been an eventful year for LGBTQ legislation, with two packages passing: one earlier in the year for a ban on conversion therapy and one from the last session banning the “gay panic” criminal defense.

Although he said there has been the most legislative attention paid to the LGBTQ community in eight years and getting the funding for the center is a another win, Skoufis said there is still a lot of work to be done regarding the rights and well-being of LGBTQ community members.

“There is a clear need for more services and more support within the LGBTQ community; and so, I’m very proud to champion their values and their causes in the State Legislature,” said Skoufis. “There’s a lot more work to do, this is just a start.”

The LGBTQ + Center operates Tuesdays and Thursdays, offering various programs and safe spaces to LGBTQ + peoples of the community.

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