Shelter Specialist
New York, NY

The Coalition for the Homeless (the “Coalition”) is the nation’s oldest advocacy and direct services organization helping unhoused individuals and families and those at risk of experiencing homelessness. The Coalition believes that affordable housing, sufficient food and the chance to work for a living wage are fundamental rights in a civilized society. Since its inception in 1981, the Coalition has engaged in litigation, advocacy, public education, and direct services to ensure that these goals are realized.

In addition to its aggressive and innovative large-scale advocacy on behalf of homeless individuals and families and its 11 programs serving over 3500 at-risk people every year, the Coalition is the court-appointed independent monitor of the Department of Homeless Services (“DHS”) shelter system for single adults, and the New York City-appointed independent monitor of the DHS shelter system for homeless families.

The Coalition is seeking a passionate, curious, and organized individual to join the Advocacy Department’s Shelter Rights Monitoring Team as a Shelter Specialist.


The Shelter Specialist’s primary duty is to conduct shelter monitoring activities consistent with the Coalition’s duties and obligations. The Shelter Specialist will regularly visit homeless shelters in order to document shelter condition violations and other problems. These visits include joint inspections with DHS and ‘unannounced’ shelter visits, which may occasionally be conducted outside of traditional business hours. The Shelter Specialist will engage with shelter residents for the purpose of gathering and sharing information and, as appropriate, communicate directly with shelter staff to address residents’ immediate needs and concerns. The Shelter Specialist will also help organize, support, and mobilize shelter residents and formerly-homeless New Yorkers for Coalition advocacy campaigns and events.


Working under the direction of the Shelter Rights Monitoring Team Supervisor (“Supervisor”) or

designee, the Shelter Specialist will:

Monitoring & Advocacy

• Conduct monitoring of New York City shelters to assess and document: (a) shelter conditions; (b) compliance or lack thereof with the Callahan consent decree and other applicable court orders and regulations, and (c) the needs of residents

• Advocate for individual needs of shelter residents to the extent possible during field visits

• Provide shelter residents with information and referrals, as appropriate

• Document individual and systemic problems for follow-up with DHS as directed

• Communicate with DHS regarding compliance with shelter standards and follow up to ensure that they are addressing issues raised

• Ensure all monitoring visits are accurately and timely entered into Coalition databases and other electronic tracking systems as directed

• Timely respond to shelter residents’ calls and emails, and log the same into Coalition database as directed

• In consultation with Supervisor and other shelter monitoring staff, identify the need for and schedule unannounced inspections, and update shared department calendars to reflect schedule changes

Community Engagement

• Assist with the Client Advisory Group (“CAG”), a key tool for organizing homeless and formerly-homeless individuals and families, and attend CAG meetings

• Organize shelter residents and formerly-homeless individuals and families for the purpose of City and State-level advocacy on a range of public policy issues that impact homeless and low-income individuals

• Together with the Advocacy staff, help develop and implement the Coalition’s organizing campaigns and public education work

Other Duties

• Work with Advocacy staff and outside counsel to provide litigation support by identifying and liaising with potential plaintiffs for affirmative cases related to defending or expanding the rights of homeless individuals and families

• Liaise with other departments and programs of the Coalition to provide resource materials and increase awareness about the work of the Advocacy Department and to include other staff in Advocacy campaigns and events

• Obtain regular supervision with the Supervisor or designee to review department operations, policies, and other issues/concerns

• Participate in weekly staff and other meetings as directed, such as in-service training and staff development and orientation activities

• Assist in the training and orientation of fellow members of the department, including, but not limited to, accompanying department staff on field visits and ensuring they understand the rights of shelter residents; and

• Perform all other duties as may be assigned by the Supervisor or the Deputy Executive Director for Advocacy.



• AA/AS in human services or health discipline required (or a GED/high school diploma and at least four years of relevant work experience in homeless services or grassroots organizing).

• BA/BS in social work, human services, or health discipline strongly preferred.

• Prior direct client services and case management experience, especially with homeless and/or low-income people, strongly preferred.

• Strong written and oral communication skills required.

• Solid critical thinking and problem-solving skills required.

• Comfort with extensive travel throughout NYC required.

• Ability to engage in considerable walking, climbing stairs, and being on your feet for extended periods of time required.

• Flexibility and willingness to occasionally work outside of traditional business hours is required.

• Desire to work as part of a team required.

• Spanish or French language proficiency highly desirable.

• Lived experience in the NYC shelter system highly desirable.

 Salary range:  $60,000 – $65,000