Key Issues 

Maria understands the Upper West Side

Safety for all, an education system that works for every student, addressing homelessness, mental health, bringing back small businesses, a path to economic recovery, NYCHA Housing, supporting the elderly and the socio-economically disadvantaged, resolving issues that polarize us, transparency and accountability.

Read below to see where Maria stands on these issues.

Maria D'Anzilo smiling and taking off her mask

The Issues

Pillar 1: Public Safety

It took decades of hard work and community building to create the safe, diverse multi- generational neighborhood that is the UWS today. Unfortunately, our elected leaders have downplayed or ignored the problems so many are experiencing on the UWS. The loss of our sense of safety is impacting every aspect of community life, from shopping at local stores, taking the children to the playground, sitting on a bench on Broadway, walking the dog in our beautiful parks, enjoying outdoor dining, riding the subway to work, to even crossing the street. For our community to recover from the destabilizing and disruptive impact of Covid-19 we must restore this sense of safety. Everyone has the right to feel comfortable and safe, wherever they are, without the fear of violence. The UWS must be a place where every single person can live and work with dignity and without fear.

My Plan:

  1. Commit to enhanced public safety efforts to address street and subway crime, gun and gang violence.
  2. Ensure the UWS is getting its fair share NYPD funding allocations.
  3. Support the newly adopted Memorandum of Understanding that provides the agreed upon disciplinary matrix for the NYPD
  4. Support reform and reinvention collaboratives underway between NYPD and the City.
  5. Provide enhanced support for addressing mental health issues to both support our community and mitigate crime.
  6. Deploy a comprehensive strategy to root out Hate Crimes       

Maria Danzilo will fight to ensure that our city government provides our neighborhood with our fair share of resources to ensure public safety for all and will work to return the neighborhood to the safe community that it once was.

CLICK HERE FOR MY FULL PLAN FOR A SAFE UWS FOR ALL >>>

Pillar 2: Education

Background

Our education system must work for everyone. New York spends by far the most on education per student of any State in the US, and yet our schools continue to fail our students. We must hold our leaders accountable for this decades long slide by engaging new leaders who have fresh approaches in order to give every student the best chance to be successful.

New York spends approximately $28,000 per student, more than any other state in the country, and yet our schools continue to fail our students. Reading and math proficiency continues to hover below 50%, and data suggests that a majority of high school graduates lack basic proficiency in reading, writing and math, and must relearn then in order to enter community college. This decades-long slide cannot continue.  We must engage new leadership to tackle our failing school system, in order to give every student the best chance to be successful.  We need great  public schools to keep our New York families in New York City and to attract new families to make New York their home. 

 

Public education must be supported by fully engaging with and listening  to all stakeholders- parents, teachers and administrators. Our schools should be turning out graduates with the skills necessary  to be competitive in a globalized, innovative and technology focused economy. It is the responsibility of elected leaders to find solutions that will  address the shortcomings in public education, so that it is finally working for every student. 

 

My Plan: 

This plan cannot be accomplished without engaging fully with all stakeholders, teachers, parents and administrators. The CEC boards are vital to what needs to be done to improve our schools. 

1. Schools need to be fully reopened safely, immediately. 

2. Support programs t hat help our students achieve, not lower standards, in the early years, and continue through high school.  We need to expand high performing school offerings and expand school choice. 

3. Remove layers of bureaucracy in the DOE and revise school spending formulas. 

4. Expand mental health initiatives.   

5. Promote financial literacy, critical thinking, civics, artistic and scientific development, as well  as physical activity. 

6.Support dual language programs. 

7. Expand support for programs for students with learning differences and IEP. 

8. Improve nutrition education and food quality. 

9. Reduce class size 

10. Provide enhanced classroom technology and access to technology. 

  1. Explore merit based pay models for teachers.

12. Expand Support for Charter Schools

 

Maria Danzilo, a proud CUNY graduate and the mother of three, is a leader who has not only ideas, but real- life experience in raising her children in NYC. She believes New York should be educating every student to participate fully in the workforces of the future. New York should settle for nothing less than making sure every student finishes a New York City public school education confident in their ability to compete with the very best students from anywhere in the world. Parents, students, community leaders and our unions must unite around a plan to reach these lofty goals and make our education system work for everyone.

Moving the goalpost on students and families in regard to admission to selective schools, and the elimination of G and T programs and other successful programs, as the Board of Education has done in the midst of a pandemic and in the waning days of the Mayor’s tenure, was irresponsible at best and does nothing to address inequities in our system. Families were blindsided by actions that were taken without any community input, in a cynical move knowing that the parents most harmed by these decisions lack the power or resources to object.

Maria believes we need to expand schooling options so that we have an abundance of diverse students who qualify for our most selective schools through various merit -based admissions standards. We need programs for students who need support as well as students who thrive in high achieving environments.

Improving curriculum in lower grades is the way towards ensuring equitable access to selective middle and upper schools.

Reforming education to make it possible for every student to achieve must include addressing unequal opportunities from the very first- time students step into the classroom.

We must do more to help our students achieve, not lower standards

Pillar 3: Homelessness

Background

Spending Out of Control: Total spending for homeless services grew by 138 percent between 2014 and 2020, an increase of 3.5 billion, yet the City homeless population is on the rise.

For the third time in four years, the Homeless Service Providers made the Comptroller’s Agency Watchlist, watch “spotlights city agencies that raise budgetary concerns due to rapidly increased spending and meager measurable results.” 

We need a full audit of DHS and homeless services spending, the results of which should be used to redirect funds towards providers who are showing tangible results in combating the homelessness crisis. 

Increasing Homelessness. There are approximately 58,000 people living in NYC homeless shelters. These numbers do not even begin to count those who choose to avoid homeless shelters and sleep on the streets. City agencies charged with working to end homelessness are not getting results

We need an outsider with no political baggage to come at this issue with a fresh perspective. I will not stop until NYC reforms and establishes policies that allow the  most vulnerable to get the housing, support and care they desperately need to get back on their feet. We must bring City agencies and outside providers together to solve these issues.

 

Three of the largest causes of homelessness are: 

  • Survivors of domestic abuse who have fled their abusers
  • Those who have an untreated mental illness, and
  • Young adults aging out of foster care who lack a support network 

We need to develop solutions that get to the root causes of homelessness and tailor solutions to fit the circumstances of each situation. 

My Plan:

Funds and resources from all levels of government from local community, city, state and federal levels must be streamlined to address this growing issue of homelessness. 

1- Create a social housing system that offers services and housing according to the needs of the individuals affected while respecting the needs of the communities they are located in.  One size does not fit all. When occupants require extended services, those shelters should be smaller and services should be brought on-site to ensure ongoing compliance. The service providers must be closely monitored to avoid instances of abuse and fraud as we have seen recently in our City’s homeless services system. 

2- Enforce the new State law that requires community input before shelters are introduced in a neighborhood. In recent years, homeless shelters have been placed throughout the City in locations that have gone directly against the community’s wishes. Several instances have included placing homeless shelters meant to house those recovering from addiction across from parks known to have high rates of drug dealing. Instances like this can be easily avoided when communities make decisions for themselves. 

3- Tackle the mental health crisis that is afflicting up to 50% of the homeless population. Require that the City connect those diagnosed with mental illnesses with mental health services that truly tackle the root-cause of mental illness and deliver a wide variety of services according to the mental and physical abilities of each individual. We need to expand the types of treatment we offer as a city to properly address the needs of everyone experiencing mental illness, from expanding long-term in-hospital care, creating mobile teams for sheltered residents, refunding walk-in clinics, and conducting more research into new methods of treating mental health.

4- Homeless Prevention. We need to shift some of our resources to families who need help BEFORE a family member becomes homeless. Providing direct intervention by experienced mental health care workers to address mental health crises through family counselling and medication management. Reduce stigma of mental illness through the delivery of education programs and promoting access to services.

We need to provide  timely access to clubhouse communities, clinical treatment, caregiver respite, residential programs and, when needed, hospitalization.

Mental illness and crime are intricately linked. We need to end the prison to shelter pipeline for people suffering with a mental illness. We should look to programs like Homes For Life Foundation, which provides supportive housing for individuals with mental illness who were formerly incarcerated. These programs are significantly less expensive to operate than prison and homeless shelters.

5- Provide training to all abled sheltered individuals and deliver job search services. 

6- Demand transparency from our homeless service agencies and all service providers. The recent arrest of Victor Rivera for bribery, and allegations of sexual misconduct against women in his care, cannot be tolerated.   

7-  Investigate DHS’s spending  and make sure budgets  are  allocated based on effective measures and results.  We need to drill down on why the budget doubled to $3.5 billion without correlative measurable results. The City comptroller should be required to conduct twice yearly audits (on par with other failing city agencies) until we start seeing results.

8- Meet with stakeholders to develop a comprehensive, workable and successful strategy with clear metrics to address and fix street homelessness. 

9-  Build a comprehensive system of care for individuals and families that will help them transition to permanent housing that is sustainable for them and the city over the long-term.  

10- Increase safety in shelters. Shelters need to be temporary, but they also need to be safe, and must provide services necessary to address the needs of the residents.  We need facilities sized to the needs of the individuals and the communities with personalized services designed to help people transition to the next level of housing and ultimately a permanent home.  

 

Pillar 4: Small Businesses
The Upper West Side has always been known for its eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and other small businesses that have defined the character of our neighborhood. These businesses normally account for about half of local jobs. Our small business owners include new start-ups, second or third generation owners, as well as immigrants who have invested their life savings to share their talents and their cultures with our community. Small businesses employ members of our community from every walk of life, from our seniors to our teens, and are social hubs that bring us together as a community. Even before the pandemic wreaked havoc on our commercial landscape, our small businesses were closing at an alarming rate. Our elected representatives have known about this downward spiral for years and have done nothing to stop it. Like so many problems in our neighborhood that have just gotten worse and worse over the last decade, the situation has deteriorated to a point where at least half of all of our small businesses have closed. This downward spiral must stop.
Affordable Housing

Any discussions surrounding affordable housing must first address the absolute debacle of how the city has maintained its public housing. NYCHA needs $31.8 billion in repairs right now and the plan that the city has proposed to fill this funding gap (NYCHA 2.0) leaves $8 billion in repairs that currently do not have a source of funding and the plan does not even attempt to cover the $20 billion the city projects will be needed to maintain NYCHA over the next half decade. NYCHA residents must have safe, secure and inhabitable housing. We must put an end to these deplorable conditions. 

 

The path forward for building more housing requires a comprehensive approach that preserves the affordable housing stock we have while also working with the community on what they need going forward. We must also ensure that we work with property owners and developers to bring jobs to the community. The residents of the Upper West Side must have a strong voice in any future development and all development must be transparent. We have the opportunity to work with our housing providers, many of whom are small business owners in their own right, to be able to continue to preserve affordable housing in our community. By being transparent and having open dialogue with all stakeholders, we can help preserve the character and history of our neighborhoods and make sure that as we grow as a city we don’t lose our existing affordable housing stock. 

 

We must demand transparency from all stakeholders — lobbyists and organizations formed to advocate for one position or another must make themselves clear to the public as to who they are and who they represent. We must ensure compliance with the NYC lobbying law. So let’s frame the discussion in a forthright way around transparency and enforce laws that we have in place. 

 

Mental Health
Decades of failed policies to address the mental health needs of our city’s most at risk populations have led to a major crisis. Surveys show that over half of NYCs homeless population lives with a mental illness or a severe health problem, most of which go untreated indefinitely.

The Upper West Side is a compassionate, hospitable and welcoming neighborhood, and we are 9th out of 51 districts in the City for the number of shelter beds within our District. Within the spirit of our long tradition of compassion and inclusion and making sure the soul of our neighborhood as welcoming to all is preserved, Maria will fight to make sure City agencies step up and provide transparency and accountability in regard to siting new shelters consistent with the “Fair Share” requirements in the City Charter and new state laws, as well as “good neighbor” policies.

We must increase services to this vulnerable population and the families who care for them. We must find ways to support families challenged by caring for mentally ill members, through housing priorities and specialized housing, in order to reduce homelessness among this most vulnerable population.

Seniors

As we emerge from COVID-19, we must prioritize keeping the UWS accessible, affordable and safe for our seniors, whether they are living in congregant settings, with families, or on their own.

We must ensure that our community programs are well funded and run responsively to meet their needs. Food access and other services for seniors must be maintained and expanded. For those who live on a fixed income, these programs are invaluable resources that cannot be eliminated.

Our streets, parks and mass transit must be kept safe. Respect for and appreciation of our elders is a core value.

Many UWS residents are living below the poverty line. We must ensure that food access and eviction avoidance programs, along with other services, such as job training and after school and summer youth programs are maintained and expanded.

Programs to improve physical health, along with better access to quality food, is essential.

NYCHA Housing
City-wide NYCHA housing is home to 1 in 15 New Yorkers and 12% of total rental apartments. Since at least 1998, federal and state funding losses have led to significant deterioration of these buildings, and the City now estimates it will take 32 billion dollars to repair these building. On the UWS, home to many NYCHA units, the residents of NYCHA are living in unacceptable conditions and many have been without gas for months and were without heat for many months last year. Elected representatives who have been in City office for decades have known for years that the NYCHA budget was a ticking time bomb, and have ignored the escalating budget shortfall that has led to the current crisis. They focused instead on other priorities, at the expense of this community. They were ineffective in proposing solutions that will improve their living conditions.

As your new representative on City Council, Maria will commit to bring about reform in how the City addresses the needs of the residents of NYCHA housing. We must devote the resources necessary to stop the slide and begin the hard work of exploring solutions that will raise the funds to restore safe and functional housing for every NYCHA resident.

Affordable housing done responsibly:

The City must have a framework for ensuring every NYCHA home is maintained at all times and there must be accountability and consequences when needs are not met. We cannot accept anything less when continued negligence puts our neighbors’ health and safety at risk.

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