Subway Closures Overwhelm Shelters + Marcela Mitaynes Interview

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Local News:

  • A City Council bill that would provide single hotel rooms to homeless New Yorkers was called “reckless” by the Department of Social Services. The comments came after The City and New York Post published photos of overcrowded sleeping conditions near homeless shelters after the subways began to expel people at 2 a.m.
  • New York’s response to the Covid-19 disaster was marred by missteps from Governor Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio, and exacerbated by the notoriously poor working relationship between the two men, according to a report by ProPublica.
  • Multiple police unions are pressuring Mayor De Blasio to fire the City’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, over a comment she made in March in response to NYPD officers demanding more masks. The pressure comes amid a growing rift between De Blasio and the City’s Health Department, with the Mayor increasingly relying on Dr. Mitchel Katz, head of the City’s public hospital system.
  • A group of incarcerated people in a privately-run prison are suing GEO Group, the corporation that runs Queens Detention Facility, for allowing a Covid-19 outbreak that infected over one-fifth of inmates. Advocates have been pushing Governor Cuomo to loosen release criteria for incarcerated people across the state.
  • City Limits published an account of the ongoing crisis at Rikers Island from a public defender affiliated with Queens Defenders.
  • The Mayor announced an additional 12 miles of open streets and 9 miles of bike lanes on a temporary basis. Many safe streets advocates were unimpressed with the size and location of the street closures as many New Yorkers are beginning to seek open space in warmer weather. On Friday, the Mayor announced a retooled summer cooling plan focused largely on subsidizing air conditioning.
  • A citywide expansion of participatory budgeting scheduled for June is likely to be canceled due to the fiscal fallout of Covid-19.


  • Midnight tonight is the next campaign deadline for candidates for New York state office. Jacobin profiled NYC DSA’s slate of candidates for State Assembly, State Senate, and Congress. You can donate to the slate here
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez failed to secure the Working Families Party ballot line in November’s general election after a successful legal challenge by Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, her right wing Democratic primary challenger.
  • The Intercept analyzed two New York City congressional races where multiple challengers risk splitting the vote and reelecting incumbents Yvette Clarke (NY9-Brooklyn) and Eliot Engel (NY16-The Bronx).

Q&A with Marcela Mitaynes, Candidate for NY Assembly District 51

NYC-DSA has endorsed Marcela Mitaynes, a housing activist running for State Assembly in District 51 (Sunset Park). She answered questions for The Thorn via email. (Check out The Thorn’s previous Q&As with NYC-DSA endorsees Jabari Brisport and Phara Souffrant-Forrest.)

How did your work as a tenant activist inspire your campaign?

As a tenant organizer, I have seen the deep inequality in our city. People are routinely evicted or forced out of their homes, so their landlords can make a profit. Last year, I was a leader in the successful fight to pass the historic Housing Stability Act of 2019, the strongest rent laws our state has ever seen. It showed the power tenants of New York were able to amass and cultivate by organizing.  This was an immense struggle that culminated in me and hundreds other tenant activists getting arrested demanding it’s passage. Through this process, I saw how many politicians claim to be on our side, but did not stand with us when it mattered most. We need to elect working class people who understand that changes begin when everyday people organize and build mass movements. We need to elect working class people who have a record of fighting for the working class and will only be accountable to their constituents. 

What’s it like to be running for office as a housing candidate amidst calls to #CancelRent? What do you think the Covid-19 crisis will mean for the ongoing housing crisis in NY?

The tenant movement came off a big win in which they delivered a huge blow to the real estate industry, in one of the largest concentrations of capital in the world.  #CanceRent is so much more than what you are reading.  It is about understanding we cannot go back to a system that was making money off the displacement of the working class and putting them in shelters.  This is an opportunity to grow our movement of the working class and fight for changes that will make it easier for people to stay in their homes. We have an opportunity to dismantle the infrastructure that is not working and rebuild the system on the belief that housing is a human right.

In what other ways has Covid-19 changed your campaign?

We abruptly stopped all door knocking and field operations. With so much of our original plan being based around having a strong field game, this has majorly changed the direction of our campaign. While we have had a lot of powerful conversations over the phone, much of our team, myself included, would much rather be on the doors. I also experienced symptoms of Covid which took me out of commission for a few weeks. This was valuable time spent away from the campaign trail. Covid has made things more difficult, but due to the dedication of our team, we have been fighting back hard. This is a unique opportunity to engage in conversations to discuss a new future and grow our grassroots, working class power. However, the phone calls we make and money we raise in the next few weeks will be the difference between making history, by electing the first Peruvian American into the state legislature and losing. 

How do you see your campaign as part of a larger movement for democratic socialism? How can NYC-DSA members get involved?

This isn’t just a campaign, this is a movement. Our ultimate goal is to fight for a socialist future that works for everyone. I see this campaign as one small part of that struggle. The issues that we are fighting for- Medicare For All, Housing as a Human Right, a Green New Deal- are much larger than this campaign, they require a mass movement to achieve. We can use this campaign to build that movement, to introduce people in Sunset Park to socialism. I am proud of the people who joined DSA through my campaign and are now active members, and some even got elected to the South Brooklyn Organizing Committee.

With the coronavirus crisis shutting down door-to-door field operations, NYC-DSA’s endorsed candidates need your help to win their insurgent challenges in June. Sign up to remotely volunteer for Phara, Jabari, Marcela, Zohran, and/or Samelys today! And volunteer to re-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Julia Salazar!

Donate to DSA For the Many, a multi-candidate committee supporting our four state legislative challengers, here.

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