NYC-based Gay Men’s Health Crisis is under fire over the search for a new home to replace their longtime headquarters on West 24th Street, which they must vacate by the end of this year after losing their lease. According to cofounder Larry Kramer, the new building being considered is unacceptable.
Somehow a building was eventually located that GMHC’s leadership felt they could afford. It is in the Associated Press building on 33rd Street and Tenth Avenue. For people with AIDS it will be an awful and unsatisfactory home. It is an indication of the board’s desperation that it has been willing to accept terms and restrictions that are out of another era. Here are only some of them: No kitchen or cooking facilities will be allowed. GMHC is famous for its daily hot meals, which, for many clients, is the only food they get. I repeat: for many of their clients this is the only food that they get. Clients will be forced to enter through a special entrance and use a special elevator,lest the regular tenants see them. Staff will be allowed to use the regular entrance and elevator. This represents an institutionalized apartheid that past leaders of GMHC would have denounced and refused to countenance.
No medical facilities or activities will be allowed. This could literally be a real killer. Most clients come to GMHC for regular testing, counseling, clinical trials, to see their doctors, and to receive related services, all under one roof. The medical and testing facilities are located on the ground floor of their current West 24th building. These services, which provide grant funding for GMHC, are financed by generous contributions by the David Geffen Foundation and the Michael Palm Foundation, and are administered by New York Hospital/Weill Medical Center. Without these facilities located in the same place as their daily hot meals, (which they will now also not begetting) what reason would clients have to come to GMHC at all? Indeed, the new building is located in such an inconvenient neighborhood that it will be arduous for many clients to come there. It is a fifteen minute walk to many subway stations, a ten minute walk to others. There is a 34th Street cross-town bus to take them the very long blocks to these subways, but I keep having images of sick people standing in the snow and rain on a freezing winter day waiting for that cross-town bus.
Read Kramer’s lengthy diatribe for more of story.