Legal Aid Society


City Hall: Most Homeless New Yorkers Must Wait Until Summer for Working WiFi

The Legal Aid Society condemned Mayor Bill de Blasio for refusing to immediately install broadband-based internet at the overwhelming majority of shelters housing families with children who have been struggling to access remote learning due to shoddy internet, reports the New York Daily News.

In response to a demand letter dated October 8, 2020, from Legal Aid, the City acknowledged in a reply today that it “cannot offer a detailed timeline” and its goal is to have “all sites complete [by] this summer.” There are 240 sites at issue, which are comprised of existing shelters, planned new shelters, scattered site apartment units and other dwellings. The City plans to prioritize installation for 27 shelters “this winter,” but this timeline falls woefully short for the many families and literally thousands of homeless students who need working internet access now.

The City’s reply also confirms Legal Aid’s understanding that the internet access issue was not an isolated one but a systemic problem affecting shelters across New York City in every borough.

“The city’s plan is simply insufficient, and families in shelters will continue to grapple with shoddy internet for weeks and months, impairing access to remote learning,” said Susan Horwitz, Supervising Attorney of the Education Law Project at The Legal Aid Society.