Lack of leadership fails the homeless
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s policies on homelessness
have been an embarrassing failure.
The population of homeless New Yorkers
has only grown in his seven years at City
Hall. Proudly-announced programs such
as the “Turn the Tide on Homelessness”
initiative have seemingly gone nowhere.
The city continues to pile homeless
families into hotels, and that continues
to provoke fi ghts with communities that
don’t want shelters in their neighborhood.
The backlash on the Upper West Side over
hotels-turned-homeless shelters there was
loud enough for de Blasio to cave earlier
this month, abandoning the policy and
moving some of the residents out.
Then de Blasio turned around and
stopped the transfers of homeless families
with children, which was a prudent decision
given the start of the school year. The last
thing kids need, especially during the COVID
19 era, is another disruption of routine.
Yet all the waffl ing demonstrates just
how badly de Blasio has mismanaged the
crisis of homelessness in New York City —
not just in deed, but in word.
NIMBY-minded New Yorkers seized
the narrative almost every time the city
established either a temporary or permanent
homeless shelter in a community.
The Department of Homeless Services
regularly employed an obtuse strategy of
moving individuals in fi rst and then telling
community leaders and City Council
representatives of their plans.
The shelter opponents seized on the
secrecy like a lion running to fresh meat.
They blasted de Blasio and his colleagues in
government for failing the homeless — then
threw into their narrative all the fears about
public safety, most of which were built of
De Blasio had no chance of winning this
battle — which makes his unforced errors
look even worse than they appear.
City government has an obligation to
house the homeless and fi nd shelter for
every New Yorker who needs it. That City
Hall hasn’t come up with better ways to
address it other than creating large-scale
shelters only aggravates the crisis at hand.
But more than that, de Blasio’s failure to
proactively rally the city behind the need to
end homelessness proved to needlessly fuel
tensions and fail thousands of New Yorkers
in need by putting them in the eye of the
We don’t expect that to change in 15
months, so the next mayor will need to step
up in ways that de Blasio cannot.
can’t be replaced
BY MONET ELZEY AND
It’s been 179 days since New York City
schools closed due to the pandemic.
Some of those days have felt like weeks,
while others have passed with the blink of
an eye. But as parents, one thing has remained
constant: our devotion to the health
and well-being of our children.
The shift to remote learning in March
was an incredible feat by teachers, students,
and families. Countless hours have been
poured into keeping our children on track
over the past six months, and the resiliency
of our communities has been a beautiful
thing to witness. We made it through some
of the toughest days in our City’s history,
during the height of a crisis no one could
have ever prepared for.
Today, we’ve made it through the worst
of that crisis—and we’re uniquely positioned
as the only major school district in
the country able to safely send our children
back to school in the fall. Our children,
their education, and their futures can’t
afford to wait.
Being in school is an experience that
can’t be replaced. And that’s why we are
so hopeful we can make blended learning
work. It’s a chance to get our children back
to their classrooms, where they learn best
with one another.
As of now, the majority of students will
begin the school year in a blended learning
model, where they will be learning inperson
in their own school buildings part
of the week and learning remotely during
PHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES
the remaining days. Our schools play such
a critical role in our communities, and
hundreds of thousands of New York City
parents are ready to safely get their kids
back to their classrooms.
Are we nervous? Of course, we’re parents.
We lie awake at night thinking about
our kids, especially our youngest children.
How can we help them understand that
they can’t hug their friends? Will they remember
to wear their masks all the time?
None of it will be easy. Our young ones are
dealing with the change, confusion, and
even trauma the pandemic has brought
into their lives. The social and emotional
support of educators, friends, parents, and
loved ones is needed more than ever for all
developing young minds. We are so grateful
for the wrap-around care that is already being
planned out in our school communities.
Planning for the school year is never
easy, but this fall has required far more
preparation than ever. We’ve seen fi rsthand
the work our teachers, principals, and
even our Mayor and Chancellor have put in
to keep our schools and classrooms safe.
A later start to school is allowing educators
and families more time to thoroughly
prepare for the start of a school year like no
other, and mandatory testing will help keep
our communities safe and healthy.
As parents, we’re reassured. But above
all, we’re hopeful. We believe we can make
this work, and that we can give our kids the
kind of learning experience they can only
get in a classroom.
Monet Elzey and Lude Bonnet are
parents of New York City school children
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8 Sept. 17, 2020 Schneps Media