1979 Coalition Founders File Callahan v. Carey
1980 Police Conduct Street Sweeps Around Madison Square Garden for the DNC Convention
1981 Callahan v. Carey Consent Decree Establishes the Right to Shelter; The Coalition is Incorporated
1982 Eldredge v. Koch Extends Right to Shelter to Women
1983 McCain v. Koch Filed to Give the Right to Shelter to Families
1984 Opening of Camp Homeward Bound; Pitts v. Black
1985 Coalition Begins the Grand Central Food Program; Wilkins v. Perales
Coalition Opens Albany office; McCain v. Koch; Baby Jennifer v. Koch
1987 RAP Launched; Koskinas v. Boufford; Heard v. Cuomo
1988 Coalition Houses Re-Opens; Mixon v. Grinker
1989 Shelter Census Falls
1990 SSHP created; First NY/NY Housing Agreement
First Step, Bridge Building Open; Number of Families in Shelters Rises
1992 CFH v. Jensen
1993 Community Mental Health Reinvestment Act
1994 StreetWatch v. National Railroad Passenger Corp.
1995 Archie v. Grand Central Partnership
1996 Welfare Reform
1997 Homeless Population Rises
1998 Coalition Formalizes the Eviction Prevention Program; Massive Shelter Flooding
1999 Coalition Challenges Punitive Shelter Rules
2000 Bound for Success Begins; Giuliani Shelter Ejection Plan Blocked; New Poll; NY Kids Need Housing
2001 CFH Begins CAP
2002 Michael Bloomberg Takes Office; State of the Homeless; NY Kids Need Housing Campaign Continues
2003 NYS Appellate Court Allows Shelter Denial Regulations
2004 Bloomberg Announces Five-Year Plan to End Homelessness; Undercounting the Homeless; Youth Against Homelessness
2005 DRIE Established; NY/NYIII; Annual Homeless Death Reporting Requirement
2006 Timothy’s Law
2007 Bloomberg Launches Advantage Program
2008 Settlement Ensures Right to Shelter for Homeless Families with Children
2009 Bloomberg Administration Proposes Families Pay “Rent” for Shelter; Coalition Documents Bloomberg’s Lost Decade
2010 CFH Files Enforcement Order
2011 Cuomo Takes Office; Bloomberg Ends Advantage Program, Litigation Follows
2012 Number of Children in Shelter Reaches 20,000; Hurricane Sandy; Medicaid Ombudsprogram
2013 Ruling on Shelter Eligibility Rules; Shelter Census Tops 50,000
2014 De Blasio Takes Office and Initiates LINC; Coalition Leads the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing; DRIE Expands
2015 NYC Commits to 15,000 Units of Supportive Housing
2016 Gov. Cuomo Commits to 20,000 Units of Supportive Housing; Mayor Appoints the Coalition as Monitor of Family Shelters
2017 Butler v. City of New York; NYS Releases Supportive Housing Funding; Right to Counsel in NYC
2018 House Our Future NY; Client Advisory Group Newsletter; Safe Housing for Survivors of Human Trafficking; Parity Reporting
2019 Council Requires Homeless Set-Asides in New Housing; DRIE Saves Millions
2020 Yes to HSS; COVID-19 Pandemic; Single Adult Shelter Census Climbs Above 20,000; Fisher v. City of New York and E.G. v. City of New York
2021 Massive Pandemic Rent Relief; State and City Action on Rental Assistance
The founders of Coalition for the Homeless file the landmark Callahan v. Carey class-action lawsuit, arguing for a legal right to shelter for homeless men under Article XVII of the New York State Constitution. The plaintiffs are homeless men who had been denied access to the few emergency shelters in existence. In December 1979, New York State Supreme Court Justice Andrew R. Tyler rules in favor of the plaintiffs and orders the City and State to provide shelter to all homeless men.
After police begin clearing homeless people from the area surrounding Madison Square Garden to “clean up” the area for the Democratic National Convention, St. Francis Church begins letting those displaced sleep in the churchyard. A group of advocates, fighting for their rights to stay there — including Ellen Baxter, Kim Hopper, and Robert Hayes — first form the Coalition for the Homeless, as Governor Hugh Carey and Mayor Edward Koch blame one another for deinstitutionalization of State psychiatric facilities and the loss of the city’s single room occupancy housing stock to development.
The City and State of New York enter into a landmark consent decree in Callahan v. Carey, guaranteeing decent emergency shelter for homeless men in New York City and setting basic municipal shelter standards. The Coalition is designated by State Supreme Court Justice Richard W. Wallach as the court-appointed monitor for shelters for homeless adults: Coalition co-founder Robert Hayes said: ”The key thing to the whole decree is monitoring.”
Months before the consent decree bearing his name is signed, Robert Callahan, a homeless Korean War veteran, is found dead on the streets of Manhattan near the Bowery.
The Coalition for the Homeless, Inc., is fully incorporated as a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt charity in March of 1981. Homeless New Yorkers start showing up at the Coalition’s doors asking for help, and the Crisis Intervention Program is born.
Coalition co-founders Ellen Baxter and Kim Hopper release the groundbreaking study “Private Lives, Public Spaces,” documenting the lives of homeless men and women on the streets of NYC.
The Coalition files Eldredge v. Koch to extend legal right to shelter to homeless women. The case was eventually consolidated in the Callahan v. Carey consent decree.
Mayor Edward Koch begins second term and runs for Governor, but loses.
The Coalition opens its Washington, D.C., office, which later becomes the National Coalition for the Homeless.
Mario M. Cuomo becomes the 52nd Governor of the State of New York, following Gov. Hugh Carey and having served one term as Lieutenant Governor.
Building on the victories in the Callahan and Eldredge cases, the Legal Aid Society files McCain v. Koch, a class action lawsuit that argues that, under the New York State Constitution and statutes, the City and State are obligated to provide decent shelter to homeless families with children.
New York State establishes the Homeless Housing and Assistance Program — one of the few programs nationally focusing on the provision of shelter and housing for homeless individuals and families.
In the summer of 1984, the Coalition opens Camp Homeward Bound in Harriman State Park — the first summer sleep-away camp designated exclusively for homeless children.
The Coalition’s landmark Federal lawsuit Pitts v. Black ensures the right to vote for homeless New Yorkers. The case is brought against the State and City Boards of Election on behalf of homeless New Yorkers residing in shelters, hotels, or on the streets who were not permitted to register to vote because they lacked a home address. Before trial, a consent decree permitting homeless people in shelters to vote is signed. In October 1984, Judge Mary Johnson Lowe orders election officials to permit persons living on the streets to also register to vote, writing: “Homeless individuals identifying a specific location within a political community which they consider their ‘home base,’ to which they return regularly, manifest an intent to remain for the present, and a place from which they can receive messages and be contacted, satisfy the more stringent domicile standard and should not be disenfranchised solely because they lack a non-traditional residence.” The decision in Pitts v. Black gives homeless people in New York some of the strongest voting rights protections in the United States.
The Coalition files a lawsuit, Klostermann v. Cuomo, which seeks permanent housing and support services for thousands of former patients of New York State psychiatric institutions who were made homeless.
In response to a homeless woman starving to death in Grand Central Terminal, the Coalition opens the Grand Central Food Program, bringing meals to homeless people where they are, every night of the year. The program soon becomes the largest mobile soup kitchen in New York.
The Coalition files a lawsuit, Wilkins v. Perales — the first of several legal challenges against the City for unlawfully operating large mega-shelters with more than 200 beds. The case, brought on behalf of a group of homeless people sleeping in municipal shelters, seeks to compel the State to enforce several of its own regulations regarding shelter operations. Specifically, plaintiffs seek an injunction ordering the State to prohibit a shelter from maintaining a capacity of over 200 people. At the time, more than 1,400 men are bedding down on a single drill floor in one City-operated shelter. In early 1985, the State Supreme Court holds that the State failed to enforce regulations limiting the size of City shelters, and that the regulations apply to all buildings used as shelters, including armories that can readily accommodate more than 200 people. The court acknowledged that the City can request a waiver to exceed the 200-person capacity limit by demonstrating a compelling need and that the health and safety of residents will not be compromised. Subsequent lawsuits in the early 1990s lead to the downsizing of several large armory shelters.
After a City report finds that more than a quarter of young people staying in shelters had been discharged from foster care, the Coalition and allies file Palmer v. Cuomo and State Supreme Court Judge Elliott J. Wilke orders officials to continue supervising and providing independent living preparation for those between the ages of 18 and 21. The order is upheld on appeal.
In an effort to have a stronger presence in State matters, the Coalition opens its Albany office.
In the McCain v. Koch case, the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, First Department, rules that homeless families with children in New York City have the legal right to shelter.
The Coalition files the lawsuit, which involves a group of several hundred healthy infants, known as “boarder babies,” who were living in hospital wards simply because public officials claimed they could find no foster homes for these infants. A final judgment by consent mandates that the City develop sufficient placements with foster families and cease leaving children in hospitals.
After corrupt and abusive landlords are found guilty of hiring thugs and drug dealers to scare tenants out of three residential brownstones on the Upper West Side, a court orders the buildings turned over to the Coalition. The new project is named Coalition Houses.
The Coalition creates the Rental Assistance Program, a pilot program giving homeless families a two-year rental subsidy and case management services so that they can become independent by the end of the program period.
Mayor Koch commits to 15,000 units of affordable housing for homeless families and individuals.
The Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act is signed into law, following intensive advocacy by the Coalition and national allies in support of the broader Homeless Person’s Survival Act introduced the year prior and marking the first major Federal legislative response to homelessness.
Following the 1984 Klostermann case, the Coalition files two other lawsuits (Heard v. Cuomo and Koskinas v. Boufford) seeking to expand protections for people living with mental illnesses facing discharge from State psychiatric centers and City hospitals. The New York State Court of Appeals ultimately holds that City hospitals must follow plans that provide for adequate, appropriate housing upon discharge from psychiatric units, thereby curbing the common practice of hospitals discharging homeless patients directly to shelters or the streets. The State was found not to have violated the same requirements, in part because it was investing in the development of housing for this population, even though it did not have enough such housing for everyone.
The doors of Coalition Houses re-open to provide permanent housing for homeless single men and women. The Coalition returns as many of the original tenants as possible to their homes, and uses any vacancies to provide housing with supportive services to homeless single adults.
The Coalition files the Mixon v. Grinker lawsuit, demanding that medically appropriate housing — including, at a minimum, private sleeping accommodations and private sanitary facilities — be provided to all homeless persons in New York City who are seropositive for HIV. According to the suit, conditions in municipal shelters and on the streets endangered persons whose immune systems are compromised by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The lawsuit leads to improved emergency housing for homeless people living with HIV/AIDS.
Coalition wins State legislation establishing rent subsidies to help reunite homeless families with children living in foster homes.
New York’s shelter census drops by 20 percent — from roughly 26,000 to 21,000 homeless New Yorkers — over the course of the year.
The Coalition creates the Scattered Site Housing Program for people with HIV/AIDS, to help fight discrimination against people living with AIDS by housing them in private market apartments throughout several buildings.
David Dinkins, former member of the NYS Assembly and Manhattan Borough President, is sworn in as the first Black Mayor of the City of New York, and launches “Alternative Pathways” to combat homelessness.
The first NY/NY Housing Agreement and Housing New York Capital Investment Plan create 26,000 units of housing for homeless and low-income New Yorkers. The City is forced to end the use of welfare hotels that do not comply with the City regulations by the Legal Aid Society.
The New York/New York Agreement, a joint State-City initiative, is signed by Mayor Dinkins and Governor Mario Cuomo and — by creating 3,800 units of permanent supportive housing — is the largest effort to date to create housing with on-site support services for homeless individuals living with mental illness.
The Coalition begins providing job training to victims of domestic violence, marking the start of our renowned First Step Job Training Program.
Bridge Building opens in East Harlem, providing safe one- and two-bedroom apartments for homeless women and their children.
The failure of Mayor Dinkins’ “Alternative Pathways” causes the number of families living in shelters to reach a then-record of 6,000.
In the wake of Mixon vs. Grinker and litigation surrounding the spread of Tuberculosis in congregate shelters in tandem with compromised immunity associated with HIV, Mayor Dinkins and Governor Mario Cuomo make significant investments in housing for people with HIV/AIDS.
The Coalition sues the Orange County Board of Elections for refusing to allow hundreds of homeless residents of the Camp LaGuardia shelter in Chester, NY, to register to vote. In Coalition for the Homeless v. Jensen, a New York State appellate court rules that the election officials did not take reasonable, good faith steps to determine the true residency of these homeless individuals and orders that the applications of all the Camp LaGuardia residents be accepted and their ballots counted for the 1992 general election.
The Coalition is instrumental in drafting and negotiating the Community Mental Health Reinvestment Act of 1993, which adds new community-based mental health programs and services – including housing and specific programs for homeless people – by reinvesting $200 million per year in State funds saved through the closure of State inpatient psychiatric beds. This initiative moves more than $1 billion out of institutions into the community to help people with serious mental illnesses over the first five years alone, creating a new baseline of expanded community mental health services.
Coalition leaders are arrested with leaders of Broadway Cares, Equity Fights AIDS, and ACT UP — along with Rev. Jesse Jackson, actress Susan Sarandon, and others — for shutting down Fifth Avenue in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in protest of the Clinton Administration’s detention of Haitian refugees with HIV/AIDS in Guantanamo Bay. The act of civil disobedience is successful, and the Coalition helps find housing in NYC for the released refugees.
The Coalition wins State legislation expanding foster rent subsidies to help prevent the placement of homeless families’ children in foster homes.
The Coalition works with the Center for Constitutional Rights on the StreetWatch v. National Railroad Passenger Corp. case, which charges Amtrak police with illegally ejecting, harassing, and arresting homeless people at New York City’s Penn Station. A preliminary injunction is granted in February of 1995, and a permanent injunction is subsequently issued in March 1996, making a series of temporary restrictions on police treatment of homeless people in Penn Station permanent. Judge Constance Baker Motley, the first Black woman appointed to the Federal judiciary, and the first to argue a Supreme Court case, writes: “Defendants contend that the court should either concur in their labeling of the homeless as a criminal class or give weight to a perceived public interest in avoiding the aesthetic discomfort of being reminded on a daily basis that many of our fellow citizens are forced to live in abject and degrading poverty. The court cannot endorse either of these proposals,” and later awards $5,000 to $7,000 to each homeless person whose rights were violated by Amtrak.
The adult shelter population decreases 37 percent since 1989, thanks to investments in permanent housing via Mayor Koch’s 10-year capital investment in affordable housing, the use of Section 8 certificates and NYCHA units, and the NY/NY agreement.
Rudolph Giuliani becomes the 107th Mayor of the City of New York.
Coalition wins State legislation which codifies and expands the educational rights of homeless students, including transportation to and from school, initiated previously under Federal law, which the NYS Education Department and local school districts were ignoring.
George E. Pataki becomes New York’s 53rd Governor after defeating Gov. Mario Cuomo, who lost his bid for a fourth term.
Mayor Giuliani works with Governor Pataki to institute a wide array of rules to eject homeless families and individuals from emergency shelters. Gov. Pataki issues new shelter regulations that require homeless people to pay for the cost of shelter – homeless children and adults would be ejected from shelter for failure to comply. The Coalition challenges these rules in court and the State regulatory process, delaying their implementation.
The Coalition launches a major class action lawsuit, Archie v. Grand Central Partnership, in Federal court, which sought back wages for a group of several hundred homeless individuals who were paid $1 per hour under the guise of a “job training program” while working for the Grand Central Partnership, a Midtown Manhattan business improvement district (BID). The plaintiffs worked as security guards, kitchen staff, and custodial staff, many working more than 40 hours per week. Federal district court Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who later became the first woman of color and first Latinx person to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, rules that the BID violated the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act as well as Federal and State minimum wage laws, and orders it to pay back wages to the workers. After five years of delays, a settlement is reached in October 2000 in which the Grand Central Partnership agrees to pay workers $816,000 in back wages.
President Clinton signs the Welfare Reform Act, known as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), into law.
Despite the economic boom, the City does not commit to create affordable housing for low-income New Yorkers. The homeless population steadily rises.
The Coalition formalizes its practice of providing emergency grants to New Yorkers about to be evicted from their homes as the Eviction Prevention Program.
After months of persistent flooding at a municipal shelter for homeless veterans in Queens and the Giuliani administration’s failure to make necessary repairs, the Coalition files an enforcement action pursuant to the Callahan consent decree. A State court justice orders the City to make repairs to prevent flooding.
Under the Callahan consent decree, the Coalition challenges the Giuliani administration’s attempt to implement punitive 1995 State regulations issued by the Pataki administration that would deny shelter to thousands of homeless men and women each year.
The NY/NY II Agreement signed by Gov. Pataki and Mayor Giuliani creates just 2,320 units of permanent supportive housing.
The Coalition publishes groundbreaking housing report: Housing a Growing City—New York’s Bust in Boom Times.
Giuliani begins arresting people sleeping on the street if they refuse shelter, and the Coalition holds a massive rally in Union Square Park to defend the right to shelter on the 20th anniversary of the preliminary order in Callahan.
The Coalition releases public opinion survey showing New Yorkers find homelessness to be an urgent problem, support housing solutions, and have serious concerns about Giuliani’s homeless policies.
In February 2000, New York State Supreme Court Judge Stanley L. Sklar rules for the Coalition and homeless plaintiffs, blocking the punitive rules pending the City’s appeal, and writing: “The simple bureaucratic error which might send an individual out into the street because he or she was unable to understand or to cooperate with these requirements might be the error which results in that individual’s death by exposure, or death by sheer neglect. The risk is simply too great to take.”
The Coalition initiates the Bound for Success after-school program in family shelters.
Due in part to the success of the Coalition’s Rental Assistance Program, the City Council begins providing limited funding for other Rental Assistance Programs.
The Coalition releases a statewide public opinion that shows one in six New Yorkers reports that either they or a household member have stayed in a shelter or been homeless.
Homeless children participate in New York Kids Need Housing actions, including building Lego houses at Battery Park City and later delivering some of them to Mayor Giuliani at City Hall.
The Coalition is awarded funding from the NYS Assembly to start the Client Advocacy Program to help homeless people with disabilities to secure disability benefits and housing.
The attack on the World Trade Center occurs just blocks away from the Coalition’s main offices, literally leaving airplane debris at the intersection, and forcing an emergency evacuation of staff and clients. The Coalition’s Grand Central Food Program continues serving homeless New Yorkers on 9/11, never missing a night. The Coalition resumes serving clients at the Lower Manhattan headquarters on Chambers Street a week later, despite the tragic losses and what would become a months-long interruption in internet and telephone service.
Michael Bloomberg becomes the 108th Mayor of the City of New York. Bloomberg’s plan to use unused jails as shelters is opposed by the Coalition and ultimately rejected by the courts.
The Coalition releases its first annual State of the Homeless Report and publishes the second edition of Housing a Growing City—New York’s Bust in Boom Times.
JR Bennet and other homeless young people form Youth Against Homelessness, offering homeless children the opportunity to participate in NY Kids Need Housing events – including building model houses to deliver to Mayor Bloomberg, a popular postcard campaign, and a public forum with East Side congregations featuring a documentary about homeless children and several young people telling their own stories about living in shelters and trying to succeed in school without a home.
The Coalition renovates and moves to 129 Fulton Street, bringing most Coalition programs under one roof.
In a significant setback for the legal right to shelter, a New York State appellate court rules in favor of the Bloomberg administration’s appeal of Judge Sklar’s February 2000 ruling blocking the City from implementing State shelter denial regulations.
In June, Bloomberg announces his five-year plan to end homelessness.
In December, the Bloomberg administration announces that it will no longer prioritize homeless families for NYCHA and Section 8 and will replace these stable housing options with Housing Stability Plus, a time-limited and restrictive substitute.
The Coalition releases a briefing paper critical of the City’s methodology for estimating the homeless population.
Youth Against Homelessness holds its first Annual Forum.
Coalition for the Homeless and our allies in the tenant, legal, and disability communities re-write and win State and City legislation to authorize the Disability Rent Increase Exemption program (DRIE).
Following an intensive campaign led by the Coalition and our allies, the NY/NY III Agreement is signed by Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg, adding 9,000 units of supportive housing over 10 years: 7,500 units for single adults and 1,500 for families.
NY City Council legislation establishes the annual homeless death reporting requirement.
New York’s comprehensive mental health insurance mandate and parity requirement, Timothy’s Law, is signed into law. It is later made permanent and broadened to include substance use disorders and public managed care plans. It is the subject of an early study of its effectiveness, and eventually requires minimum and equitable insurance benefits for more than 11.8 million New Yorkers in public and private health plans, including: 4.95 million insured via employers; 1.09 million non-group plan members; 391,000 enrolled in Child Health Plus; 4.3 million Medicaid managed care recipients; 885,000 Essential Plan enrollees; and 214,000 served through Qualified Health Plans offered through New York’s Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange. Non-compliance with the law produces significant fines and millions of dollars in consumer compensation as a result of enforcement actions by the Department of Financial Services and the NYS Office of the Attorney General.
Seeing the absolute failure of Housing Stability Plus, Bloomberg replaces the program with Advantage, another flawed, short-term housing subsidy program.
Eliot Spitzer becomes New York’s 54th Governor, following Gov. Pataki, who served three terms.
The Coalition expands the Grand Central Food Program to deliver hot meals to people living on the streets of the Bronx, as well as two routes in Manhattan.
In a major victory for the legal right to shelter, the City and State agree to a settlement of longtime litigation involving homeless families. The final judgment in Boston v. City of New York enshrines the legal right to shelter for homeless families with children.
David Paterson becomes New York’s 55th Governor, following Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s resignation in disgrace after serving less than 15 months. He is the first blind person to serve as a governor in the United States, and is New York’s first Black governor.
With advocacy of Coalition staff and partners to preserve the integrity of Timothy’s Law, the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act passes and ultimately strengthens State law.
Following years of advocacy, including extensive early work by Coalition staff, the National Housing Trust Fund is established.
The Bloomberg administration proposes punitive rules requiring many homeless families and individuals to pay for shelter, in some cases more than $900/month. The Coalition, working with the Legal Aid Society and others, challenges the new rules and wins a change in State law to block the misguided “shelter rent” provision from taking effect in New York City.
Bloomberg’s failing policies on homelessness are chronicled by the Coalition as a Lost Decade, in which more New Yorkers experienced homelessness than under any previous New York City mayor since modern homelessness began three decades prior.
During the winter of 2009-2010, the City fails to provide sufficient shelter for homeless men and women. Following months of reports and first-hand documentation by Coalition shelter monitors, the Coalition files an enforcement motion under the Callahan consent decree. In early 2010, a State court justice orders the City to provide sufficient shelter for homeless adults and to cease the practice of shuttling homeless men and women from one overnight shelter placement to another each night.
Andrew M. Cuomo becomes New York’s 56th Governor, following Gov. Paterson’s completion of Gov. Spitzer’s term.
After Gov. Cuomo withdraws State funding for the faltering and flawed Advantage rent subsidy program, Mayor Bloomberg abruptly cancels it. Working with the Coalition, the Legal Aid Society files a class action lawsuit on behalf of some 15,000 formerly homeless families who had been promised up to two years of rental assistance under the program but whose subsidies were stopped. Although a State appellate court ultimately rules against the families, temporary court orders help provide eight additional months of rental assistance to the families. Nevertheless, half of the families whose subsidies expire return to the shelter system: More than 8,500 Advantage families, with more than 18,000 children and 12,000 adults, return to the shelter system after their Advantage housing subsidy expired.
The Bloomberg administration attempts to implement new shelter eligibility rules for homeless single adults that, according to City officials themselves, would have denied emergency shelter to thousands of homeless men and women each year. The Coalition, working with the Legal Aid Society, immediately challenges the misguided rules, and the New York City Council files suit based on the Bloomberg administration’s failure to follow proper administrative procedure in attempting to introduce the new regulations. State Supreme Court Judge Judith J. Gische ultimately rules in favor of the City Council, The Legal Aid Society, and the Coalition, declaring the procedure containing the rules “a nullity.”
With few resources for homeless families to exit the shelter system, the number of children in the family shelter system surpasses 20,000. The New York Times calls on Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Cuomo to help with permanent housing assistance.
Hurricane Sandy slams into NYC on October 29, killing 48 people, destroying thousands of homes, and leaving whole swaths of the city without power. Even during the height of the storm, the Coalition’s GCFP continues distributing meals to those in need and steps up its emergency relief efforts in the chaotic days following the storm, delivering food, blankets, and other critical supplies to storm victims throughout the hobbled and blacked-out city. In the initial dearth of any coordinated effort by the City to monitor and ensure the well-being of those displaced by the storm, Coalition staff work around the clock in the field, helping hundreds of evacuees in the makeshift evacuation shelters set up in high schools and colleges, the haphazard and unsafe evacuation shelters crowded into Callahan shelters, and in dozens of hotels and YMCAs scattered across NYC. The thousands displaced by the storm add to the record number of people already sleeping in municipal shelters.
The Coalition co-authors a proposal to establish a new State-funded advocacy service to help recipients navigate the complexities of Medicaid Managed Care. The resulting program is slated to provide $23 million in ombudsprogram services statewide over the first five years and is called the Independent Consumer Advocacy Network (ICAN), comprised of community-based advocacy programs coordinated by the Community Service Society to help people with managed care plans that cover long-term care or behavioral health services.
Ruling on the Bloomberg administration’s appeal of previous court decisions blocking it from implementing its proposed 2011 shelter eligibility rules for homeless adults, New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, upholds the previous court’s rulings that the administration had violated the City Charter.
The homeless population reaches 50,000 for the first time ever. More than 10,000 NYC schoolkids sign a petition asking Mayor Bloomberg to help the more than 20,000 homeless kids to get out of shelters and into real homes.
Bill de Blasio becomes the 109th Mayor of the City of New York, having served previously as the New York City Public Advocate and a Member of the New York City Council.
Mayor de Blasio re-instates “Code Blue” shelter rules for homeless families seeking refuge during freezing weather, reversing the dangerous and much-criticized Bloomberg policy that turned families away from shelter intake during sub-freezing cold. The Coalition convinces the City and State to launch rent subsidy programs to help homeless families and single adults move from shelters into permanent housing. Mayor de Blasio moves 750 homeless families in NYCHA apartments.
Mayor de Blasio initiates a series of new rental subsidy programs (called “LINC” for “Living in Communities”) to help homeless families and individuals move into permanent housing. After needless delays by the Cuomo administration, the City is able to launch six separate LINC programs and also make hundreds of Federal Section 8 rent subsidies available to homeless families.
The Coalition debunks as a “Zombie Lie” the conservative assertion that targeting housing subsidies to help homeless families leads to a surge in families seeking shelter.
The Coalition leads the Campaign for NY/NY Housing, calling for a new City-State agreement for 35,000 units (30,000 in NYC) of supportive housing to be built over the next 10 years.
The income limit for the Disability Rent Increase Exemption program is increased to $50,000, making families with more than one person with a disability, or veterans with 100 percent disability ratings, eligible for the protective rent freeze that helps disabled New Yorkers living in regulated housing to save on rent and avoid homelessness.
The de Blasio administration commits to funding 15,000 new units of supportive housing for New York City, stating that it cannot wait any longer for the State. The Coalition and other advocates from the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing encourage Gov. Cuomo to make this a true NY/NY Agreement by committing to 15,000 additional units for NYC and 5,000 units statewide.
In his 2016 State of the State Address, Governor Andrew Cuomo commits to funding 20,000 new units of supportive housing – 15,000 in New York City and 5,000 elsewhere in the state – over 15 years. However, the initial $2 billion set aside in the 2016 State Budget is not released in 2016 due to the Governor needlessly demanding that a memorandum of understanding (MOU) be signed by the Governor, Assembly Speaker, and Senate Majority Leader. The Coalition and other advocates from the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing hold weekly rallies throughout 2016 (and into 2017) to urge Governor Cuomo to #SignTheMOU and release the promised funds.
After NYC Department of Investigations and the NYC Comptroller release scathing reports on deplorable conditions in shelters for homeless families with children in 2015, Mayor de Blasio designates Coalition for the Homeless as independent monitor of the family shelter system. The Coalition has been the court-appointed monitor of shelters for single adults since 1981.
The Butler v. City of New York class action settlement ensures people with disabilities are able to meaningfully access Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelters and services. The lawsuit was brought against the City in 2015 by The Legal Aid Society on behalf of homeless people with disabilities, the Coalition for the Homeless, and the Center for Independence of the Disabled in New York, and a settlement is reached in 2017. The five-year settlement agreement will remove barriers to shelter access, ensure that reasonable accommodations are provided, and comprehensively improve the DHS system for New Yorkers with disabilities through an evaluation of the current system and facilities, remediation plans, and staff training – a landmark victory for homeless people living with disabilities.
After nearly a year of rallies, weekly protests, and demonstrations by the Coalition and other members of the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing, the 2017 New York State budget authorizes the release of $1 billion in State funds to pay for the first 6,000 new units of supportive housing for homeless individuals and families (of the total 20,000 promised by the Governor in 2016).
Thanks to three years of steadfast advocacy by the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition – of which the Coalition for the Homeless is an active member – Mayor Bill de Blasio endorses a right to legal counsel in housing court in February 2017 and signs Intro. 214-B into law in August, guaranteeing that all tenants with incomes up to 200 percent of the poverty level will have access to free legal representation, and tenants above that threshold will receive brief legal assistance.
The Coalition launches the House Our Future NY campaign to call on Mayor de Blasio to increase the number of permanent affordable housing units set aside for homeless New Yorkers to 30,000 – or 10 percent of his 300,000-unit Housing New York 2.0 plan – including 24,000 units to be created through new construction.
More than 100 kids join the Coalition for the Homeless for the NY Kids Need Housing March, once again building Lego houses to send Mayor de Blasio a message: “If we can build houses – why can’t you?”
The Coalition for the Homeless’ Client Advisory Group (CAG) launches a newsletter for shelter residents, The Monitor, written by homeless and formerly homeless members. CAG is a multifaceted mutual support and activism group that for nearly 20 years has engaged in advocacy, education, empowerment, and socialization to help organize New Yorkers living in NYC shelters.
The Coalition and allies win a State law requiring the provision of safe, culturally competent shelter and housing for survivors of human trafficking.
The Coalition and allies win passage of the NYS Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Report Act.
Following months of relentless advocacy by the House Our Future NY campaign, in December the New York City Council passes the landmark Intro. 1211-a, legislation that requires 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 bill becomes Local Law 19 of 2020 absent the Mayor’s signature and takes effect July 1 of that year.
The Disability Rent Increase Exemption program saves people with disabilities $25 million in rent payments in 2019, and has covered over $200 million in excess rents for families and individuals with disabilities since its inception.
The Coalition launches the Say Yes to HSS campaign to urge Governor Cuomo to fund Home Stability Support, a statewide rent subsidy designed to bridge the difference between woefully inadequate public assistance shelter allowances and actual rents for New Yorkers who are homeless or at risk of homelessness due to eviction, domestic violence, or hazardous conditions. The pandemic interrupts the campaign, but momentum in support of State-funded rental assistance builds nonetheless, as reflected in a statewide public opinion survey showing that 74 percent of New Yorkers support including Home Stability Support in the State budget.
The cataclysmic COVID-19 pandemic abruptly alters the lives of all New Yorkers. Homeless people are particularly vulnerable, as they have much higher rates of serious underlying health problems, generally lack access to quality health care, and many have no way to self-quarantine unless they are part of a family living in a private self-contained unit. The Coalition quickly adapts its programs and advocacy to respond to the crisis, continuing the Grand Central Food Program and other vital services even at the height of the pandemic, and releases a report chronicling the early months of the burgeoning health and economic crises.
For the first time, the number of single adults sleeping each night in DHS shelters, including safe havens and stabilization beds, climbs to more than 20,000 (20,210).
In October, The Legal Aid Society and Jenner & Block LLP file a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court on behalf of the Coalition for the Homeless and homeless single adult New Yorkers. The lawsuit is against the City of New York, the Department of Social Services (DSS), and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) for failing to take appropriate action to temporarily provide safe shelter for single adults that is free of significant health risks from aerosol transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
In November, The Legal Aid Society and Milbank LLP – representing the Coalition for the Homeless and certain individual shelter residents and their children – file a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against the de Blasio administration for its failure to provide students who reside in City shelters access to reliable internet service so they can attend school remotely.
The Coalition releases a report documenting the lives of unsheltered New Yorkers in View From the Street.
The New York State Budget includes $250 million in additional funds for supportive housing as well as $2.6 billion in emergency rental assistance and another $100 million for rental assistance that could be used to support Home Stability Support or a similar type of rent subsidy. The Coalition and allies succeed in defeating an ill-advised expansion of the involuntary commitment statute proposed by Gov. Cuomo.
The Coalition for the Homeless is unique in providing both lifesaving frontline services and groundbreaking large-scale advocacy.
The Coalition’s first legal victory, Callahan v. Carey, established New York City’s right to shelter for homeless adult men – a crucial first step in establishing subsequent victories on behalf of homeless women and children. Since then, the Coalition has won a string of legal victories including securing medically appropriate housing for people living with HIV/AIDS and ensuring the right to vote for Americans without homes. We continue to serve as the court-appointed monitor of the shelter system for single adults and vigorously defend the hard-fought rights we have secured for our city’s poorest and most marginalized. Our large scale advocacy work has established a baseline of human decency and care for those most often marginalized, ignored and forgotten in our society.
The Coalition’s direct service programs bring lifesaving support to more than 3,500 homeless men, women and children each day. We provide emergency food and blankets, eviction prevention, crisis services and individual advocacy, permanent housing, job training and special programs for homeless youth. Our mobile soup kitchen delivers hot nutritious meals to 1,000 people living rough on the streets every single night without fail, and our Crisis Services programs help more than 10,000 people each year with a wide array of problems ranging from lost identification to impending eviction to a need for mental health services. We are the place where those who have been turned away everywhere else can come and receive compassionate and professional help.
The Coalition is out in the shelters and on the streets every single day, meeting homeless people where they are, and homeless New Yorkers know the doors of our headquarters in Lower Manhattan are always open to them. Our constant frontline presence enables us to effectively amplify the voices of homeless people themselves in fighting for real solutions to homelessness in City Hall and Albany, and our historic role in establishing and defending the rights of homeless men, women and children make our program staff uniquely qualified to help those in need. Simply put, our advocacy informs our programs, and our programs inform our advocacy. This dual focus gives the Coalition its legitimacy as the most trusted source of information for policymakers, academics, the press, the general public and homeless people themselves.
The Coalition advances only sensible and fiscally-sound solutions to New York’s crisis of homelessness. Decades of empirical evidence clearly demonstrate that housing-based solutions to homelessness cost taxpayers far less than stopgap emergency measures, and result in homeless individuals and families remaining stably housed for the long term. While the average cost to taxpayers of keeping a homeless family in shelter for one year is more than $72,500, helping that family move into permanent housing by providing a temporary rental subsidy costs less than one-third of that amount. For those with mental illness and other disabilities, the creation of permanent supportive housing units saves New Yorkers $10,000 per person per year.