Thank You for Helping Us Collect 13,000 Toys for Homeless Kids!

Thank you to everyone who supported this year’s Holiday Toy Drive. With your help, we’ve collected 13,000 (and counting!) dolls, action figures, footballs, arts and crafts kits, and more to be distributed to homeless kids in New York City just in time for the holidays!

We also want to thank you for your support of our annual Kids’ Holiday Carnival, co-hosted by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). Every year, 100+ kids from shelters across the city joined us for a holiday celebration including games, music, food, and more! This year, the kids enjoyed an amazing magic show, danced with Captain America and Wonder Woman, had their names sketched out in graffiti art by Xmental Inc., and had a visit from Santa himself, who made sure every child received a gift. It was, as always, a magical afternoon of fun.

A special thank you to Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP for donating over one hundred unique Build-A-Bear teddy bears, which the kids loved, and to long-time Coalition supporters Burke & Co for once again providing delicious, festive cookies for the children to enjoy.

We want to once again extend gratitude to everyone who participated in this year’s Holiday Toy Drive. For the 22,000 kids who will spend this holiday season living in a shelter, something as small as a special toy or game just for them makes all of the difference in the world.

Thank you to everyone who donated through our Amazon Wish List or hosted a toy drive at their school or business. Also, thank you all of the amazing corporations who participated including: Blackstone, WeWork, RedFuse, NADAP, Carnegie, Manhattan Toy Company, The Regis Group,  NYCEDC, MAXIMUS, American Heart Association, Dentons, VMLYR, White & Case, TP ICAP, Nike/System of Service, and so many more! Also, we’d like to extend a special thank you to Roger Clark and NY1 News for highlighting the Holiday Toy Drive for the third year in a row and alerting even more New Yorkers to the needs of homeless families in our city.

Thank you and happy holidays from all of us at the Coalition for the Homeless!

In Landmark Victory, House Our Future New York Campaign Applauds City Council for Passing Intro 1211-A

Groundbreaking Bill, Introduced by Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr., Would Require Majority of City-Assisted New Projects to Set Aside at Least 15 Percent of Apartments for the Homeless

Lack of Affordable Housing Primary Driver of New York City’s Record-Breaking Homelessness Crisis; More than 62,000 Men, Women, and Children Sleep in City Shelters Each Night 

NEW YORK, NY — In a landmark victory for the 62,000 New Yorkers sleeping in city shelters and thousands more sleeping on the streets, the New York City Council today passed Intro. 1211-a, which will require the majority of new housing developments that receive City financial assistance to set aside at least 15 percent of apartments for homeless individuals and families. The legislation, introduced by Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr. and supported by the House Our Future NY Campaign, was applauded as a bold step toward ending the city’s record-breaking homelessness crisis.

This victory comes after nearly two years of the House Our Future NY Campaign, with the support of the majority of the New York City Council, calling on Mayor de Blasio to match his Housing New York 2.0 plan to the true scale of the homelessness crisis.

“This historic vote today represents a major turning point in combating the city’s record homelessness crisis. Since the beginning of the Housing New York plan, half of all projects financed by the City have created no units for homeless New Yorkers. By codifying a requirement on a project-by-project basis, this bill could create 1,000 additional apartments each year for the New Yorkers who need them. We are grateful to Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr., Council Member Stephen Levin, and our many Council allies for treating mass homelessness like the urgent humanitarian crisis it is. Through the House Our Future NY Campaign, we have worked to demonstrate the urgency to create more permanent housing for homeless New Yorkers. We applaud the leaders on the frontlines of this campaign, many of whom have experienced homelessness, who helped make today a reality,” said Giselle Routhier, Policy Director at Coalition for the Homeless.

This legislation, which would require most City-aided new construction developments to set aside at least 15 percent of apartments for the homeless, will ensure that an estimated average of 1,000 additional apartments per year will be created specifically to house homeless New Yorkers. These new apartments would be in addition to the City’s baseline housing portfolio, including the Mayor’s prior commitment to build supportive housing.

Since 2014, according to data from the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, 293 developments that received City financing (half of all City-aided projects) created no apartments for homeless people at all. These developments have a total apartment count of about 38,000. Another 84 developments set aside more than zero but fewer than 15 percent of their apartments for homeless households. Had the aforementioned developments with more than 40 units been required to set aside at least 15 percent of the project’s apartments for homeless households from the beginning of Housing New York, the City would have financed an additional 6,500 apartments for homeless New Yorkers, including many for homeless families and couples who are not in need of supportive services.

“My lifetime fighting for racial and social justice taught me that change only comes when people fight together, confront power, and demand what is right. The bill we passed today is simple and right. At its core, it legislates that government must serve the needs of the people. We look forward to many more victories like this one, because we need to ensure everyone has a home. Thank you to all who stood with us, especially Council Member Salamanca and Speaker Corey Johnson. When we fight, we win!” said Nathylin Flowers Adesegun, the VOCAL-NY leader who confronted Mayor de Blasio at the YMCA gym last year.

“Neighbors Together celebrates the passage of this momentous bill. Intro 1211 will fundamentally change the way our city invests in the creation of housing for New Yorkers who are homeless. This commitment to building housing for those who need it most is long overdue, and we thank Council Member Rafael Salamanca and Speaker Corey Johnson for their leadership in getting it done. We also want to applaud all of the homeless and formerly homeless New Yorkers and our allies in the House Our Future New York Coalition, who fought for over two years to achieve this victory. This bill’s requirement that city financed developments set aside 15% of their units for homeless New Yorkers will create thousands of critically needed apartments. We look forward to the day when every New Yorker has a home, and this is an important step in that direction,” said Denny Marsh, Executive Director, Neighbors Together.

“Housing Works applauds the hard work of all the members of the House Our Future NY campaign and we extend our thanks to CM Salamanca and the City Council for passing this landmark bill. This is an important step forward and an accomplishment that should be celebrated, but we also want to take this opportunity to demand that Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo make a serious commitment to end homelessness across this state. We can end homelessness in New York only if our elected officials show real political will,” said Charles King, CEO, Housing Works.

“We applaud Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Member Salamanca for their leadership in prioritizing the needs of people experiencing homelessness. As a city, we cannot address the homelessness crisis without adding housing targeted to homeless families and individuals. Intro 1211 is an outstanding step on the path to ending homelessness in NYC,” said George Nashak, Executive Director, Care For the Homeless.

“With the passage of Intro 1211, New York’s City Council is demonstrating that it is truly ‘the people’s house.’ It’s inspiring to see our legislative body respond to the desperate need of our 60,000 homeless sisters and brothers and to our City’s need to establish public policies that reflect the compassionate heart of New York City. We look forward to celebrating Mayor de Blasio’s signing of this legislation as part of his legacy to address New York’s crisis of homelessness and the severe shortage of truly affordable housing for those most in need,” said Marc Greenberg, Executive Director, Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing.

“The solution to homelessness is housing, and passage of Intro 1211 will assure that the City allocates its resources to where the need for housing is greatest. We commend Councilmember Salamanca and Speaker Johnson for their leadership and commitment to our clients,” said Joshua Goldfein, Staff Attorney, The Legal Aid Society.

“We’re excited that the Mayor and the City Council have agreed to pass Intro 1211 into law. Requiring that all affordable housing buildings financed by the City will set aside at least 15% of their units for homeless New Yorkers will create thousands of new homes desperately needed by homeless families and individuals. While Mayor de Blasio’s administration has already created record amounts of homeless housing, there is so much more to do. Intro 1211 is a big step in the right direction. We want to thank Councilman Rafael Salamanca and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson for their leadership on this issue,” said Ted Houghton, President, Gateway Housing.

“Ask any homeless New Yorker, and they’ll tell you what they need more than anything else is housing. Intro 1211 shows that the City Council is listening to people experiencing homelessness and homeless advocates, and is delivering what is needed most. We’re grateful to Council Member Salamanca and Speaker Corey Johnson for their leadership, as well as to our homeless neighbors and advocates who continue to lead the House Our Future campaign,” said Lynden Bond, LMSW, and Josh Dean of Human.nyc.

“Community Access congratulates the City Council for taking a momentous step forward in responding to the homeless crisis in NYC by passing Intro 1211. Community Access was one of the original supportive housing providers in the city, and pioneered the blended housing model that works so well in creating opportunities for neighbors to live side-by-side, and providing access to social services that matter for the formerly homeless, people living with mental health concerns, working families, and others. The passage of Intro 1211 into law will affirm that the city, legislators, and our community want to work together to help every New Yorker gain access to home and a foundation for a better future. We stand ready to help in any way that we can in this effort,” said Cal Hedigan, Chief Executive Officer, Community Access.

“I lead a congregation that is fiercely committed to economic and social justice. It also hosts one of the largest emergency food programs in the city. I applaud the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson and members of the New York City Council for moving forward on Intro. 1211, designed to create thousands more affordable apartments for so many of our neighbors who desperately need them. It is an outrage that in the wealthiest city in the world, more than 62,000 persons are homeless and hundreds of thousands more suffer severe housing insecurity or are forced to live in tight quarters with friends or family. This bill begins to address this terrible injustice,” said Rev. Jeff Wells, The Church of the Village.

“We applaud Councilmember Rafael Salamanca, Speaker Corey Johnson and the entire Council, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams, on this historic step forward in our fight to end family homelessness. Expanding affordable housing options for homeless New Yorkers is key to the comprehensive reform needed to address New York City’s family homelessness crisis. This will help ensure that the 70% of shelter residents who are women with children have a viable pathway to permanent housing. Helping families who are raising children in shelters to find affordable housing can dramatically change the course of their lives and offer their children the long-term stability they need and deserve,” said the Family Homelessness Coalition.

“The efforts and solidarity to make the passage of Intro 1211 happen is heartwarming and gives greater hope that we’ll beat our social problem of homelessness into nonexistence. This is no minor step in the right direction to rethink our city’s landscape toward an equitable, purposeful, and harmonious one. With all the recent progressive successes, from strengthening the tenant regulations and the new housing considerations to the Intro 1211, we can continue, together, to plow ahead for other corrective means to further a better quality of life for us all,” said John Mudd, President, Midtown South Community Council.

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House Our Future NY is an advocacy campaign formed by the Coalition for the Homeless and 68 partner organizations, as well as homeless men, women, and children and other caring New Yorkers. The campaign calls for 30,000 new units of affordable, permanent housing for homeless New Yorkers by 2026, with 24,000 of these apartments to be created through new construction. Visit www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/hofny for more information

Endorsing Organizations:

The Ali Forney Center
Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health
Bailey House
Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association, Inc.
Barrier Free Living
Broadway Housing Communities
Bronx Health & Housing Consortium
Care for the Homeless
The Church of the Village (NYC)
CitiLeaf Housing
Citizens’ Committee for Children
Coalition for Homeless Youth
Coalition for the Homeless
College and Community Fellowship
The Collegiate Churches of New York
Community Access
Community Service Society
Comunilife
Covenant House New York
Emergency Shelter Network
Encore Community Services
Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church
Fierce!
Gateway Housing
GEMS
Harm Reduction Coalition
Henry Street Settlement
Homeless Services United
Hope’s Door
Housing Conservation Coordinators
Housing Works
Human.nyc
Hunger Action Network of NYS
Hunger Free America
Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing
Kingdom Faith Developers
Lab/Shul
The Legal Aid Society
Mekong NYC
Midtown South Community Council
Mutual Housing Association of NY (MHANY)
My Dog is My Home
National Lawyers Guild – New York City Chapter
National Working Positive Coalition
Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter
Neighbors Together
New Destiny Housing
New York Communities for Change
New York Society for Ethical Culture
New York State Council of Churches
Partnership for the Homeless
Pax Christi Metro New York
Picture the Homeless
Positive Tails
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Safe Horizon
Services for the UnderServed
Sisters of Charity of New York
Society for the Advancement of Judaism
St Ann’s Church of Morrisania
Strong Families Deliverance Ministries Inc.
Tenants & Neighbors
Tenants Political Action Committee
University Settlement and The Door
Urban Justice Center
Urban Pathways
VOCAL NY
WE ACT For Environmental Justice
Win

Today’s Read: de Blasio Turns Corner to Put Street Homeless on Fast Track to Homes

As thousands of unsheltered homeless New Yorkers endure sub-freezing temperatures on the city’s streets, Mayor de Blasio announced this week a new plan called “The Journey Home” to “end long-term street homelessness” in five years. In the plan, the City commits to creating 1,000 new permanent apartments and 1,000 low-threshold safe haven shelter beds for New Yorkers who have been on the streets for a long time, several hundred of which are already in the development pipeline. This announcement signals that Mayor de Blasio has finally heeded the repeated requests from the Coalition for the Homeless and other advocates to invest in these resources to give people a better, safer option than the streets. Unfortunately, “The Journey Home” also doubles down on the Mayor’s misguided plan to rely on police officers to surveil and engage with homeless New Yorkers, particularly in the subways.

Coalition for the Homeless Policy Director Giselle Routhier explained in a statement:

“We are pleased to see Mayor de Blasio moving toward providing the resources that homeless individuals on the streets actually need: permanent housing and low-threshold shelters. This investment is a critical step toward helping people find safe and permanent housing. The increased reliance on the NYPD to conduct outreach, however, is counterproductive and misguided. The practice of issuing summonses, surveilling homeless individuals, and coercing people to leave the subways with threats of arrest are inhumane and a misuse of police officers’ time. We urge the Mayor to shift the focus of engagement from NYPD officers to trained social services professionals in all interactions with homeless individuals, and to further build upon these initial investments in housing and safe havens. If we can overcome the rising mistrust that is an inevitable byproduct of NYPD’s increasing contact with homeless people, we should begin to see real progress in reducing the tragedy of street homelessness with these new housing resources.”

Yoav Gonen wrote about the action plan for The City:

Advocates for the homeless said the new push aligns closely with what they’ve been demanding: Alternatives to traditional shelters that many homeless people see as unsafe, overly regimented and offering little privacy.

The concerns are particularly acute for intake centers, which are single adults’ entry point into the city’s homeless services system. The centers are larger than other shelters and have a reputation among homeless people for violence and other criminal activity.

“It’s a really important shift in how the administration has been handling homeless policy — particularly for folks who are on the street,” said Giselle Routhier, policy director for the Coalition for the Homeless. “Up until now every announcement has been about expanding outreach, expanding surveillance… but not adding the resources that people need, which is housing.”

Pushback on Policing

In June, the administration announced a pilot program that would offer homeless people who break MTA subway rules an opportunity to avoid a summons if they agree to engage with social service workers who help them get shelter. The program expanded citywide in August.

That same month, the city also launched a Joint Crisis Coordination Center in Brooklyn where NYPD and Department of Social Services personnel monitor subway system cameras for homeless individuals in real time.

Both moves prompted complaints from advocates, who question the city’s reliance on the NYPD to deal with the homeless.

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