A centre for homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans young people is to be named after Golden Girls star Bea Arthur.

Arthur died aged 86 in April this year. She had been a generous benefactor to the Ali Forney Centre, the homeless LGBT charity which is naming the shelter after her.

Four years ago, the Tony Award-winning actress flew to New York for a benefit performance for the centre, raising more than $40,000. She told Next magazine the centre was saving lives.

The charity currrently has eight residential shelters for LGBT youth in New York City , each of which are rented. It recently received funding from the Oak Foundation to buy housing sites and plans to name the first one the Bea Arthur Residence for LGBT Youth.

“Bea Arthur was tremendously kind and generous to the Ali Forney Centre” said Carl Siciliano, the charity’s founder and executive director. “The caring and concern that Bea expressed for our kids meant the world to us, and we are thrilled to be able to give honour to her memory in this way.

“Before Bea became involved with us, we only had two sites, and could only shelter 12 kids. We were struggling to respond to an epidemic of homelessness that was not very well understood, even in the LGBT community. Bea’s support and advocacy really helped raise awareness in our community. Bea Arthur played a crucial part in our efforts to expand our capacity to respond to the hundreds of LGBT youths who come to us for help. She feels very much like a patron saint.”

The Ali Forney Centre was set up in 2003 and is named after Ali Forney, a young homeless LGBT man who was murdered in 1997.