Thank You For Our Most Successful Holiday Toy Drive Ever!

Every year, the Coalition for the Homeless hosts a Holiday Toy Drive to collect dolls, action figures, games, books and more for homeless girls and boys in New York City. Thanks to our generous supporters, this year we collected a record 14,000 toys!

We kicked off the holiday season with our annual Kids’ Holiday Carnival, co-hosted by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). More than 125 kids from city shelters played festive party games, hung out with Batman and Captain America, got their names drawn in cool graffiti art by Xmental Inc., and enjoyed a delicious lunch with ice cream sundaes for dessert!

The kids were even treated to an astonishing magic show, and of course a visit from Santa himself. As they bundled up in their warmest winter gear ready to face a snowy afternoon, each girl and boy walked away with an extra special holiday gift and bag full of goodies to enjoy.

The children in our Bound for Success after-school program received an unforgettable surprise – a winter wonderland party and a visit from the Amazon Treasure Truck! After an evening of fun and games with Amazon volunteers, the girls and boys walked outside to find the magical, illuminated Amazon Treasure Truck. Their faces lit up as the truck played festive tunes and dispensed gifts for the children and their families. It was a wonderful evening and we would like to give a big thanks to Amazon for brightening the holidays of so many girls and boys.

Photos: Amazon

We cannot begin to thank everyone who participated in this year’s Holiday Toy Drive. With your help, we had our most successful drive ever! Because of you, thousands of children could forget their worries and truly enjoy the holiday season.

Thank you to everyone who donated through our Amazon Wish List or hosted toy drives in your apartment buildings, schools and businesses. We want to take a moment to recognize our volunteers from VML, Convene, Council of Accreditation, Tory Burch, JP Morgan Chase, Alliance for Health, Analytics Partners and White & Case for all of your hard work unpacking, sorting, and wrapping gifts and creating gift bags for our Holiday Party. We’d also like to thank UFT, The Albert Apartments, Feed Your Soul Bakery and Café, Analytics Partners, America’s Food Basket, Bank of America, Belardi Wong, Berg & Antrophy, CBS, Coller Capital, Edelman, IBO, ION Media Networks, Maximus, Missy Faren & Associates, Moelis & Company, NADAP, NYC Economic Development Corp (NYCEDC), NYC Department of Environmental Protection, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Otis Elevator, Paramount Group, Inc. Pfizer Foundation, Precise Corporate Printing, Inc., Red Fuse, Rose Associates, Societe Generale, Trevor Day School, Shawmut Design and Construction, Universal Music Group, Roger Clark and NY1, and Christy Burke and friends.

Just some of the 14,000 toys that were delivered to homeless girls and boys this holiday season.

Cuomo’s Housing Budget Must Go Farther, Some Advocates Say

Albany has it tough this year. As a result of declining revenues, the state faces a $4.4 billion budget deficit that Governor Andrew Cuomo hopes he can eliminate by curbing spending growth to 1.8 percent and creating new revenue sources. Changes to federal health care funding may cost the state another $2 billion, and Albany is bracing for more federal cuts down the line. And then there’s fear that the federal tax bill, which reduces state and local tax deductibility, will cause wealthy residents to leave the state, resulting in declining tax revenue.

In his State of the State address on January 3, Cuomo emphasized the federal threats to New York. He also raised concerns about the state’s homelessness crisis.

Today’s Read: How Legal Odds Are Stacked Against the Evicted

The housing affordability crisis has pushed countless people to the brink of homelessness. Many tenants are left to navigate the daunting eviction process and housing court system on their own, facing off against landlords who are almost always represented by attorneys. Due to the inadequate supply of affordable housing and this judicial imbalance, housing court is often the last stop before a family enters a shelter for homeless people.

In an effort to level the playing field in housing court, last year New York City passed groundbreaking legislation to become the first city in the country to guarantee legal representation to all low-income tenants facing eviction. Coalition for the Homeless is monitoring the five-year phase-in of the program through our work with the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition. For the latest information about implementation, and for details on whether you might be eligible for free legal help in housing court, please visit the Right to Counsel website.

Matt Krupnick wrote about New York City’s new right to counsel law– and the potential for it to be replicated in other cities across the country – for The Guardian:

“In housing court, it makes a tremendous difference,” said John Pollock, a Baltimore attorney who leads the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel. “When you introduce a defendant’s attorney to the process, it changes the expectations.”

[Bronx resident Areletha] McLain’s attorney, Carmine Annunziato, said more than 80% of his evicted clients have been able to return home. The difference between housing court defendants with and without attorneys is “night and day”, he said.

“People don’t know their rights,” he said. “They’ll sign anything.”

It’s easy to think of eviction as being simply the result of unpaid rent, and that is certainly true in some cases. But the issue is far more complex.

Some tenants refuse to pay rent because of unheeded repair requests, leading landlords to evict them rather than solving the problems. Others, including McLain, are caught up in the confusion of ownership changes – in McLain’s case, she says she paid a brokerage that dissolved, taking her money with it.

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