Our history began ten years ago as a yearly outreach to people living on the street during the peak of New York’s brutal winter. Each February, committed volunteers equipped by the original founding organizations, walk every block of our city and bring hope to our friends on the street. What began as an event has sparked a movement as everyone involved dreamed about collaborating to provide year-round compassionate, comprehensive care in response to the growing crisis of homelessness.

Rescue Alliance finds its roots in the century-old legacy of faith-based outreach to homeless New Yorkers on Manhattan’s Lower East Side by The New York City Rescue Mission and the Bowery Mission, the two oldest Gospel Rescue Missions and founders of a movement of over 300 faith-based organizations across the United States. Through social movements, political change, and economic swings, these ministries remain steadfast in a common mission to serve with humility and to show respect for every person. 

In the modern era, as the factors leading to homelessness have shifted, Rescue Alliance members continue to respond to the call to reach out and develop consistent, ongoing relationships with people living without adequate housing. NYC Relief Bus goes out every day to distribute hot meals, hygiene kits, and other tangible resources through mobile outreach and case management. The Salvation Army, The Bowery Mission, New York City Rescue Mission, and Goodwill Rescue Mission offer emergency shelter, compassionate care, and residential life transformation programs. This work is fueled by the support of Hope for New York, mobilizing volunteer and financial resources to serve the poor and marginalized in New York City. 


In the face of great tragedies, Rescue Alliance Partners have served New Yorkers through emergency response and long-term support. On September 11, 2001, New York City faced an unprecedented tragedy. Rescue Alliance partners were there for all who were mourning, serving a city enduring collective grief and helping to rebuild thousands of lives. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy rattled the five boroughs. Again, Rescue Alliance partners were out providing mobile outreach, distributing water, groceries, and medical assistance. The lights were on at the Bowery Mission due to electric generators, and the Rescue Alliance joined hands with leaders from government, faith communities, and business to care for the needs of as many families as we could. 

From the 1870’s onward, cultural and social change have shaped our mission and our work. Today, we realize that we are more effective when collaborating, sharing resources and strategies to confront the problem of homelessness and to offer compassion and dignity to those facing its struggles. That’s why the founding organizations united to build the Rescue Alliance into a dynamic resource working toward a city where everyone belongs.