MacArthur Fellows Program

Robert M. Hayes

Lawyer and Human Rights Leader | Class of 1985

Lawyer and Human Rights Leader
Washington, District of Columbia
33 at time of award
Published July 1, 1985

About Robert's Work

Robert Hayes is a lawyer who defends the rights of disabled, homeless, and impoverished persons.

In 1979, Hayes, a practicing attorney, sued the State of New York in a landmark decision (Callahan v. Carey) that established the state’s responsibility to shelter the homeless.  Hayes formed the Coalition for the Homeless in 1982, an organization that has become a major political voice in determining New York City’s public policies toward the poor.  Hayes left his law firm to become full-time counsel for the Coalition, where he directed a number of class action suits seeking to increase services for the mentally-disabled homeless and, later, for needy children in New York City.  Hayes also founded and led the National Coalition for the Homeless (1979-89), an organization that focuses on the responsibility of the federal government to America’s homeless.


Hayes is president of the Medicare Rights Center, an independent provider of information and counseling on Medicare for older and disabled Americans.  In 1989, he joined the firm of O’Melveny & Myers in New York City and, in 1992, moved to the firm of Moon, Moss, McGill & Bachelder in Portland, Maine.

Hayes received a B.A. (1973) from Georgetown University and a J.D. (1977) from New York University’s Law School.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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