In October of 1999, NY State Senator Tom Duane and SAGE/Queens Director Joseph DeFilippis convened a meeting of 60 social service agencies in NYC to discuss the impact that welfare reform had had upon lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender poor people.
As a result of that meeting, dozens of anti-poverty groups and LGBT organizations began to meet on a regular basis, to address issues of concern to poor LGBT people on welfare, and the Queer Economic Justice Network was born. Eventually, the Queer Economic Justice Network became a coalition of organizations from different movements that worked together, for the first time ever, to address a variety of poverty issues in the LGBT community.
For three years, economic justice groups such as:
- The Coalition for the Homeless
- Community Food Resource Center
- The Legal Aid Society
- Legal Services of NY
- The Osborne Association
- The Urban Justice Center and
- The Welfare Rights Initiative
worked with numerous LGBT organizations, including:
- The Audre Lorde Project
- The LGBT Community Center
- The Empire State Pride Agenda
- God’s Love We Deliver
- The Latino Commission on AIDS
- The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
- The NYC Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project
- SAGE and
to engage in advocacy and public education about how LGBT people were impacted by issues such as welfare reform, homelessness and the shelter system, and the Rockefeller Drug Laws.
During this work, many of the people involved in the Network decided that there was the need for an organization that could concentrate on these issues full-time, with a mission and a staff whose priority was to address the needs of LGBT people in poverty. In 2003, with a grant from The Open Society Institute, a new non-profit, Queers for Economic Justice, was born.
Queers for Economic Justice is committed to the principle that access to social and economic resources is a fundamental right, and we have begun our work of grassroots organizing, public education and advocacy.
Queers for Economic Justice currently receives funding from the Funding Exchange, the New York Foundation, the North Star Fund, Open Meadows Foundation, the Open Society Institute and Resist.