Coalition for the Homeless is the oldest not-for-profit advocacy group focused on homelessness in the United States. The coalition has engaged in landmark litigation to protect the rights of homeless people, including the right to shelter and the right to vote, and also advocates for long-term solutions to the problem of homelessness. Formed in 1981, the Coalition provided much of the organization and experience that was later used to found the National Coalition for the Homeless in 1984. The Coalition has offices in New York City and Albany, New York.
The Coalition provides food, clothing, eviction prevention, crisis services, permanent housing, job training and special programs for youth to more than 3,500 homeless men, women, and children daily in New York.
In 1979, in the case Callahan v. Carey, Robert Hayes, attorney and founder of the Coalition, achieved a landmark precedent in New York City, establishing that all homeless individuals have the right to emergency shelter. Since the lawsuit was settled as a consent decree in 1981, the City and State of New York have been obligated to provide emergency shelter for individuals who are homeless by reason of poverty or due to mental, physical, or social dysfunction. New York is the only city in the United States to currently have this legal protection for the homeless.
In Pitts v. Black, a 1984 lawsuit, the Coalition successfully argued that homeless people in New York should be permitted to register to vote even if they reside in shelters or on the streets.
Other services and programs
The Coalition for the Homeless has a number of programs that assist more than 3,500 homeless and at-risk New Yorkers each day. These programs include: permanent housing for families, individuals, and people with AIDS; a mobile soup kitchen serving 1,000 hot nutritious meals in 35 sites every night; job training and placement; a summer camp for homeless children; crisis intervention services that help people keep their housing and get food, clothing, and shelter; rental assistance with counseling.