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FY 2020 Annual Report

Mission Statement

The Coalition for the Homeless is the nation’s oldest advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women, and children. We believe that affordable housing, sufficient food, and the chance to work for a living wage are fundamental rights in a civilized society. Since our inception in 1981, the Coalition has worked through litigation, public education, and direct services to ensure that these goals are realized, and in that time we have given more than one million homeless New Yorkers a way off the streets.

Program Accomplishments

Every day, the Coalition for the Homeless helps more than 3,500 men, women, and children suffering in extreme poverty. Our 11 direct service programs provide emergency food and clothing, eviction prevention, crisis services, permanent housing, job training, and youth programs to address immediate needs while helping individuals and families overcome long-term barriers to employment and stability. The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly shaped all of the Coalition’s operations over the past year. Throughout the crisis, the Coalition has continuously adapted our programs and advocacy to protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of the people we serve, and of our own staff.  

Food

The Grand Central Food Program has been the front line in the Coalition’s emergency response to the COVID crisis. The GCFP is the largest nightly mobile soup kitchen in the United States, serving more than 1,100 meals per night, every night, at 25 street locations around Manhattan and the Bronx. In response to the surge in need created by the pandemic, we increased the number of meals we hand out each night by 40 percent, and added PPE and other emergency items to our vans – including 60,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, thousands of prepaid cash cards, and nearly 250,000 face masks. 

Crisis Services

The Eviction Prevention Program has continued to issue eviction prevention grants to households whose cases were opened before the eviction moratoria, and we are preparing for the expected wave of evictions to come once the moratoria are lifted. The Crisis Intervention Program transitioned to function as a hotline that helps roughly 140 individuals per week with access to shelter and referrals. The Client Advocacy Program continues to help homeless New Yorkers with applications for disability benefits and supportive housing, following a pause in housing interviews and placements implemented by providers during the worst of the outbreak. The Emergency Mail Program has remained open throughout the pandemic, but with a redesigned mail pick-up system that utilizes scheduling, social distancing, queue management, and other methods to protect the health and wellbeing of our clients. 

Housing

The Coalition’s three permanent housing programs – Scattered Site Housing Program, Coalition Houses, and Bridge Building helped residents weather the crisis by waiving their portion of the rent for five months and providing tenants with financial support. Our staff are closely monitoring their health and wellbeing by conducting check-ins and case management via telephone and in person, as needed. 

Job Training

The First Step Job Training Program adopted a new, remote teaching model during the pandemic, with a focus on providing human services trainings and certifications via a six-week virtual curriculum.  First Step staff also developed comprehensive resource guides for service providers and homeless New Yorkers, with up-to-date information about which services were open, closed, or had changed during the “New York Pause” issued by the Governor in March 2020. 

Youth Programs

Camp Homeward Bound successfully implemented a virtual curriculum last summer with activities like yoga, dance, fitness, meditation, and music for homeless children living in shelters throughout the city. Over the summer, Bound for Success hosted an eight-week virtual day-camp for homeless students and has now begun in-person programming at the two shelters where we work – conducted in outdoor tented areas to allow the kids and staff to adhere to social distancing and other safety guidelines.

Advocacy

The Coalition’s Advocacy team continued to utilize impact litigation, research and analysis, grassroots organizing, shelter monitoring, and public education to protect the rights of homeless and at-risk families and children in our city, and fight for the proven, housing-based solutions to homelessness that will bring an end to this shameful crisis once and for all. 

Below are some of our key advocacy victories in the past year:

Impact Litigation

Since the Coalition’s founding and landmark legal victories forty years ago, we have made every effort to ensure that the City upholds its legal and moral responsibility to care for homeless New Yorkers. Together with our partners at The Legal Aid Society we have brought two new pieces of litigation against the City in the past year. In Fisher v. City of New York, we are working to ensure that homeless single adults are offered shelter placements that adequately protect them from COVID-19; and in E.G. v. City of New York, we are fighting to get the City to provide WiFi access in all shelters for families with children so that the kids are not denied access to remote education during this or any future crisis.

Grassroots Organizing

Homeless New Yorkers can and must have a seat at the table in the City and State’s continuing responses to the pandemic – and the preparations for future outbreaks. The Coalition’s Client Advisory Group (CAG) is a platform for dozens of homeless individuals and families to discuss their experiences, develop strategies for action, and engage in self advocacy. To honor and remember the lives of homeless New Yorkers lost as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coalition and CAG have held memorial services throughout the past year. CAG continues to convene every week virtually, and will continue to do so for as long as necessary.

Policy

Over the past year, the Coalition’s advocates have advanced countless solutions to the systemic failures that have led to – and exacerbated – the current situation. Some of our efforts include:

    • Working in the City Council for the passage of Intro. 1927-A, which would have required the City to provide the option of private hotel rooms to all homeless individuals to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the early months of the pandemic.
    • Working for passage of Intro. 146, to raise CityFHEPS rental vouchers to Section 8 levels and extend the period that people are eligible for assistance.
    • Advocating for the inclusion of both Home Stability Support and Housing Access Voucher Program in the State budget.
    • Advocating for the Mayor to address the urgent needs of unsheltered New Yorkers.
    • Releasing State of the Homeless 2020, which includes a summary of our major policy recommendations for both the Mayor and the Governor.

Shelter Monitoring

The Coalition is the court-appointed monitor of New York’s shelter system for single adults and the City-appointed monitor of the shelter system for families. As soon as the pandemic hit, our shelter monitors established a hotline for shelter residents throughout the city to report complaints, hazardous conditions, and any other problems they were encountering. We have also continued to monitor the City’s compliance with Butler v. City of New York, our legal victory that compels the Department of Homeless Services to provide reasonable accommodation to homeless people with disabilities and bring the shelter system into compliance with American with Disabilities Act and other fair housing laws.

Financial Information

Note: The charts above net out unrelated business expenses.

Download the CFH Financial Statement for the Year Ending June 30, 2020 (PDF)

View our Leadership List.