In the early days of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (1989-90), Rev. Timothy Keller offered the congregation a number of important concepts, some of which became the "seeds" of Hope for New York. First was the importance of the interaction between "word and deed" ministry by offering the Gospel message to the whole city. Second was an understanding of the strategic importance of the city in God's view. Third was an emphasis on the prophetic, priestly, and kingly aspects of leadership in ministry. Through this, individuals would be empowered to use their spiritual and physical gifts for the benefit of the city's less fortunate.
In 1990, about 40 interested individuals began to think strategically about mercy and justice ministry. They organized a half-day workshop called "The City Redeemed: How New Yorkers can Change New York City" comprised of teaching and small group brainstorming sessions about affecting grassroots change in the city. In 1992 much of that same core group traveled to other major cities to study what they were doing and find out how their lessons could be applied in New York. The Hope for New York model also took into account some of the unique factors of the church community in the city of New York.
Funding for Hope for New York began with seed money from Redeemer. Today, HFNY is funded through individual donations, corporate gifts, special events and the Easter Sacrificial Offering received at its partner churches.