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Cyndi Lauper plans to open shelter for LGBT young people

NEW YORK -- Pop singer Cyndi Lauper says she is planning to open a shelter for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people.

The gay icon said the shelter in Harlem will be called True Colors Residence and will support young people who have been kicked out of their homes by their parents and disowned.

Anywhere from 3,000 to 8,000 LGBT youths are homeless in New York City, according to estimates from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

"Kids are coming out in greater numbers as they see themselves accepted and represented on TV and in movies, but they're still being kicked out of their homes or running away and living on the streets,” Lauper said in a statement.

“We need to make sure we're taking care of them. This is the next generation of the LGBT community."

The six-story building in Harlem will have 30 studio apartments, a computer room, a library and communal space. Residents, who must be between the ages of 18 and 24, will pay rent based on income, according to Section 8 rules.

Organizers hope the shelter will be operational by winter 2011.

True Colors Residence is the vision of Lauper, her publicist Lisa Barbaris, and Colleen Jackson, executive director of the West End Intergenerational Residence on the Upper West Side. They said they recognized a need for a safe place for homeless LGBT youths, who often face discrimination and violence in mainstream shelters. They also were aware that most programs for homeless youth end coverage at age 18, often leaving them back on the streets.

Lauper will donate money to the shelter through her True Colors Fund. The start-up cost is estimated at $11 million, and most of the funding will be provided by New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Additional monies will be raised from other city and state sources and via corporate donations.