A new residence for young LGBT adults has opened in New York's Lower East Side using money granted by former Golden Girls actress, Bea Arthur.

The Ali Forney Centre opened the new 18-room residence in a ceremony on 30 November. In attendance was the late actress's son Matthew Saks and her grandson, Brody Saks.

The centre is New York's biggest community for gay and transgender teens and will help approximately 1,000 people a year. It supports young people who are homeless or have been shunned by their family due to their sexuality.

Arthur, who passed away in 2009, supported the organisation throughout her lifetime and donated $300,000 in her will before she died. In 2005, her one-woman play Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends brought in $40,000 in donations. The centre also received $3.3m from the New York government for the residence's construction.

"These kids at the Ali Forney Center are literally dumped by their families because of the fact that they are lesbian, gay or transgender," Arthur said before she died. "This organisation really is saving lives."

"We are proud to dedicate this residence in her honour, and humbled to celebrate this momentous occasion alongside Bea Arthur's son and grandson," said Carl Siciliano, Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center.

"The Bea Arthur Residence marks an important shift in the way that we are able to house and care for young people who have been discarded by their families simply because of who they are. Pending city approvals, we hope to begin housing young people here within the next few weeks."

Arthur was also a committed animal rights activist. She joined PETA in 1987 and campaigned against furs and once called for a boycott against KFC over its treatment of chickens. PETA has called her one of the "great animal defenders".

New York mayor Bill deBlasio has designated 30 November as 'Bea Arthur Day' to recognise her contributions to the city and its residents.