New York City must install WiFi in more than 200 city shelters in coming months so homeless students have reliable internet access.

The deal is part of the settlement of a lawsuit filed against the city by the Coalition for the Homeless and shelter residents over the city’s failure to provide reliable internet to students doing remote learning.

The settlement requires the City to install wireless internet in over 200 shelters housing more than 11,000 school-aged children by Aug. 31, so children can participate in remote learning during the pandemic and beyond. The settlement will also give shelter residents a streamlined process to resolve internet connection issues, including a three-day timeline the City must follow to resolve issues.

Already, more than 75% of shelters have been equipped with working WiFi, The Legal Aid Society said in a press release.

The Legal Aid Society Supervising Attorney Susan Horwitz said before the lawsuit was filed, the City had no viable plan to enable thousands of homeless students living at shelters to reliably attend school remotely.

“Too many families have struggled with unreliable cell phone service on DOE tablets, with zero guidance from the City on how to address those issues,” she said.

“This settlement not only requires the City to make good on its promise to wire all shelters, but also provides interim solutions for students who would otherwise be unable to connect to school while waiting in the WiFi installation line.”

Grant Mainland, a litigation partner Milbank LLP which jointly filed the suit, said students working out of shelters faced tremendous challenges on a good day.

“Expecting them to navigate the new world of remote education without adequate internet access is unacceptable. Fortunately that day is behind us.”


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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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