March News: Vote to Spend $1 Million, School Seats, and City Management

Dear Friend,

March marks the beginning of Participatory Budgeting. During this period you have an opportunity to vote on how to spend $1 million in our community. Voting will be available at dozens of Participatory Budgeting voting sites throughout the district and by absentee ballot. Make sure your voice is heard by requesting your absentee ballot today or committing to vote.

In February the New York Times covered an Education Committee hearing where legislation I introduced was discussed. My bill would require the Department of Education to report on the number of applications each school receives, how many offers it extends and where students live as well as show where students end up when they leave their neighborhoods to attend school. Many East Side residents are familiar with the Pre-Kindergarten shortage. This legislation would offer deeper insight and transparency into the problem so we can ensure no child is turned away from his or her neighborhood school.

Do you love Art? In March my office is taking part in our annual Sotheby's Student Art Show where hundreds of local students of all ages will showcase their artwork at the world famous Sotheby's. The show's opening reception will take place March 23 at 5pm sharp. You can RSVP by emailing artshowatbenkallos [dot] com

We finished off February with a focus on city management, including a Committee on Governmental Operations hearing on how to help residents and businesses avoid getting quality of life violations. As the City Council reviews the Mayor's Preliminary Budget, I will continue to push for performance budgeting to ensure every taxpayer dollar is getting results.



Ben Kallos

March 11, 10am-2pm
March 23, 5pm-7pm
Sotheby's Student Art Reception

March 25 - April 2
Vote on How to Spend $1 Million

March 29, 6pm-8pm
Cornell Tech Town Hall

April 1, 2pm-6pm
Free Bike Helmet Giveaway

March 3, 8am-10am
First Friday

March 14, 6pm-7pm
Brainstorming With Ben


  1. Participatory Budgeting: Vote on How We Spend $1 Million
  2. Geographic Diversity and School Seats on East Side
  3. Improving Privately Owned Public Spaces
  4. Public School Art Show at Sotheby’s
  5. Sotheby’s Student Art Show
  6. Performance Budgeting
  7. Standing Up to Trump’s Executive Orders


  1. Universal Pre-K Information Session Held for Upper East Side Families
  2. Compete in the Ben Kallos Chess Tournament
  3. Talent Unlimited High School Musical


  1. ERFA Town Hall and Rezoning Update
  2. Little Wooden House Landmarked by City Council
  3. Construction Worker Safety Hearing


  1. New $250M Tech Hub Comes To NYC
  2. The New York App Economy
  3. Google Developer Group


  1. Distributing Free Reusable Bags to Help the Environment
  2. New York League of Conservation Voters Score: 100%
  3. Become an Environmental Ambassador for NYCHA


  1. In The Community
  2. Queensboro Oval Update
  3. Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) Count
  4. Fighting for “Fair Fares”
  5. Rally for Passage of the Right to Know Act
  6. Retirement Security for All Update
  7. FREE Tank Tickets for Distribution
  8. Free Fire Education Workshop Hosted
  9. Manhattan Sideways Photo Exhibit


  1. Legislative Corner
  2. Free Legal Clinics
  3. Here to Help
  4. Mobile District Hours
  5. Ben in Your Building


  1. City Council Events
  2. Community Boards
  3. New York Police Department
  4. Neighborhood and Tenant Associations
  5. Community Events for Kids
  6. Community Events for Adults


  1. Summer Youth Employment from the Department of Youth & Community Development
  2. CitiBike is Hiring


  1. Resources Funded in Part By My Office
  2. Financial Empowerment Workshops and AARP Tax Aide
  3. Volunteers of Legal Service
  4. St James Church Grants Program
  5. Searching for Nominees for the New York Public Library’s 2017 Astor Award
  6. NYC Neighborhood Library Awards
  7. LGBTQ Survey
  8. Apply for Affordable Housing
  9. Summer Debate Institute
  10. Yorkville Softball League for Girls


Participatory Budgeting: Vote on How We Spend $1 Million

Each year residents in my district ages 14 and older get to vote on how to spend one million dollars in the community through Participatory Budgeting. You can see the ballot at, which was decided with the process is run by residents just like you who volunteer as Delegates. Learn more at


Vote in our District Office, 244 E. 93rd Street:
Monday – Friday, 3/27 - 3/31, 9AM - 5PM
Sunday, 4/2, 11AM – 4PM

We will also make voting more convenient by bringing the ballots closer to you at mobile voting sites throughout the district with help from this cycle’s budget delegates who will be sponsoring even more vote sites as they continue to shepherd the process. We hope you will consider volunteering with our office:

Saturday, 3/25, 10AM – 2PM, E. 82nd St. Greenmarket
Sunday, 3/26, 10AM – 2PM, Carl Schurz Park
Monday, 3/27, 7AM – 10AM, P.S. 198/77, 1700 Third Ave.
4PM – 7PM, E. 86th St. Lexington Subway (Southeast Corner)
Tuesday, 3/28, 7AM – 10AM, M79 Bus at York Ave.
4PM – 7PM, E. 72nd St. Second Ave. Subway (Southeast Corner)
Wednesday, 3/29, 7AM – 10AM, P.S. 183, 419 E. 66th St.
4PM – 7PM, Tramway Plaza at E. 59th St.
Thursday, 3/30, 7AM - 10AM, M86 Bus at York Ave.
11AM – 2PM, Eleanor Roosevelt H.S., 411 E. 76th St.
4PM – 7PM, F train at Roosevelt Island
Friday, 3/31, 7AM – 10AM, E. 86th St. 2nd Ave. Subway
Saturday, 4/1, 10AM – 2PM, E. 67th St. Greenmarket

Pledge to Vote
Request an Absentee Ballot by Friday, March 17:
Vote Online by Digital Ballot from Saturday, March 25 to Friday, March 31:

Geographic Diversity and School Seats on East Side

The New York Times covered legislation I introduced aimed at forcing the Department of Education to report on the number of New York City children from each neighborhood who apply, seats available, offers of admission, and enrollment in public schools. The bill would also report on geographic diversity, whether there are sufficient school seats in the neighborhood, and how many children are being turned away from the public school system because they do not have enough public school seats in their neighborhood. If you have been looking for pre-kindergarten on the Upper East Side you know that there is a lack of available seats.

In 2015, more than half of would be pre-kindergarteners on the Upper East Side were not offered school seats in their zip codes, 429 out of 796 or 54% of applicants. In 2016 in School District 2, spanning from the Financial District to the Upper East Side, 1,696 preschoolers took the Gifted and Talented exam with 838 eligible, 652 applying and only 346 receiving offers according to Department of Education, turning away 47% of applicants and a total of 306 preschoolers. The Department of Education is setting our children up for failure by refusing to admit that there is a current need for school seats and refusing to build the schools we need in a growing city. This legislation would shine a light on the numbers  and would enable us to direct more resources to the parts of the City where they are needed. For more information read the release and the New York Times.


Improving Privately Owned Public Spaces

The Wall Street Journal reported on legislation I introduced to improve access to the 538 privately owned public spaces (POPS) attached to 329 buildings in New York City. The legislation imposes steep fines for bad landlords who violate the terms of their agreements with the City.

POPS are created when developers want to build bigger buildings than neighborhoods are zoned for. In exchange for permission developers turn small lots into open or green space for public use. Building owners are then responsible for maintaining the space in perpetuity. My legislation would require signage at all POPS detailing amenities, hours of operation, and a website for the public to find more information. Complaints can be registered at the website or by calling 311. I am also sponsoring legislation focused on bad landlords who do not follow the rules they agreed to. They may face up to $10,000 worth of fines for the first offense, $20,000 for each additional offense, and $2,500 for each month they fail to deliver. For more information read the release and the Wall Street Journal.


Sotheby’s Student Art Show

As someone who loves the arts, it is exciting to announce our annual public school art show at the world famous Sotheby’s, to take place March 22 and 23. Each year, we feature work from hundreds of Upper East Side students of all ages. The show is organized in partnership with P.S. 183, the Department of Education and Sotheby's.

To learn how to get your students involved, please contact artshowatbenkallos [dot] com.
We hope to see you at the opening reception!

Sotheby’s Art Show
Opening Reception
March 23 at 5pm
1334 York Ave
RSVP by email to artshowatbenkallos [dot] com


Performance Budgeting

Every dollar we spend should go toward improving our city. But the document we use to measure results, the Mayor’s Management Report (MMR), doesn’t tell us if our investments are paying off. Following up on our work to make the MMR more transparent and easier to comprehend by setting clearer definitions and targets, as the Gotham Gazette reported, I have been calling on the administration to use Performance Based Budgeting to measure of the returns on the taxpayer’s investment.

Following my request at a hearing of the Governmental Operations committee last year, the MMR  now shows “spending information by general categories of appropriation.” This is an improvement, but I still don't think that’s enough. Agency goals are not connected to budgeting despite the City Charter mandating just that. I think MMR should be treated as an investment document; spending should be tied to performance goals so that all New Yorkers know where their money is going in detail. Read more about our efforts to improve the MMR in the Wall Street Journal and Gotham Gazette.


Standing Up to Trump’s Executive Orders

New York City is great because we are a city of immigrants from all faiths, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Trump’s recent executive orders dealing with immigration and border control have left many New Yorkers feeling frightened, powerless and angry. In early February, many members of the Progressive Caucus including myself took to the steps of City Hall to fight for the rights of all New Yorkers. Our city is known for its bridges, not its walls, and we will continue to protect our progressive ideals no matter who is in the White House. For more information read the release or watch the press conference.



Universal Pre-K Information Session Held for Upper East Side Families

In order to help Upper East Side parents apply and get their children into Universal  Pre-kindergarten on the Upper East Side, I co-sponsored a free Information Session with the Department of Education. Parents’ concerns and questions were answered in an effort to get more Upper East Side families the Universal Pre-K seats they need here in our neighborhood.

Since the launch of Universal Pre-K, we have successfully doubled the number of Pre-K seats at P.S./I.S. 217 on Roosevelt Island with the help of community organizers and parents. As of 2016, the number of seats on the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island has quintupled from 123, as was originally reported by WNYC in 2014, to 646 as of today. If you are interested in working with our office to identify new locations in public or private schools or even retail space please email UPKatBenkallos [dot] com.


Compete in the Ben Kallos Chess Tournament

I always loved playing chess with my grandfather and believe it promotes forward thinking as children learn to plan and anticipate possible moves. It is my pleasure to invite you to the second annual Ben Kallos Chess Tournament that I host with Chess in the Schools.

Ben Kallos Chess Tournament by Chess in the Schools
Eleanor Roosevelt HS, 411 East 76th Street, New York, NY
Saturday, March 18, 2017
8:45AM - 9:30AM, Check-in
10AM, Tournaments
3:30PM, Awards
Register by 5PM on March 14 at


Talent Unlimited High School Musical

The arts as an important component in a student’s STE[A]M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) education. I am proud to share that Talent Unlimited High School will be performing In the Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical about what it truly means to be home. Performances are Wednesday, March 8th at 3:30pm and 7pm, Thursday, March 9th at 4pm and 7:30pm and Friday, March 10th at 4pm and 7:30pm at the Julia Richman Education Complex Auditorium. For more information or to reserve tickets, email TUHSTixatgmail [dot] com or visit



ERFA Town Hall and Rezoning Update

The East River 50s Alliance (ERFA) held its “Build it Right” Town Hall in February where State Senator Krueger, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Dan Garodnick, and I addressed over 150 concerned Sutton area residents who showed up to find out what else can be done to get this neighborhood rezoned. We were also joined by Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, CIVITAS, and the Municipal Arts S.

Our application to ban superscrapers from the Sutton Area is awaiting certification from the Department of City Planning (DCP). Gamma Real Estate has filed an application with the City to build an 850-foot tower rising to 67 stories, but the Department of Buildings rejected this application because it was incomplete. While this process is ongoing, ERFA and I remain focused on getting our rezoning application certified and the process finished so buildings can be capped at 260 feet. Watch the town hall here and read the latest update at


Little Wooden House Landmarked by City Council

The little wooden house located on 412 East 85th Street is a rare piece of architecture in Manhattan, dating back to 1861. The process for getting it landmarked started back to 1966.  Finally with the help of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and organizations like Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, Carnegie Hill Neighbors, New York Landmarks Conservancy, Historic District Council the house was officially designated a landmark by after passing a vote in the Council in late February. This designation is one I have been pushing to since I was elected to the council and I am happy it finally happened.


Construction Worker Safety Hearing

Over the last two years 30 construction workers have lost their lives on the job in New York City. As covered by City Land the Council’s Housing and Buildings Committee held an eight-hour long hearing to consider ways to make construction sites safer for workers. Seven of the bills centered around crane safety. My bill, the Safe Jobs Act, focuses on apprenticeship programs and training for workers in order to better prepare them for dangerous working conditions. For more information on my bill read the City Land article and the press release.



A New $250M Tech Hub Comes To NYC

I joined Mayor de Blasio at Union Square in February as he announced the space that used to house PC Richards & Sons on 14th Street is set to become the site of a new tech center. This project is expected to create 600 new jobs and 800 construction jobs. I am glad to see that the city government is providing the funding, space, and data that the tech sector needs to thrive and stay competitive with other cities around the world. To learn more, read the Mayor’s press release and the Media Post coverage of the announcement.


The New York App Economy

I spoke to about 100 members of the Progressive Policy Institute and Technet about New York City’s “App Economy”. At the meeting speakers highlighted the increase of New York App jobs in our economy. New York City is second only to California in the app job economy. Now with Google’s Android app market as well as Apple’s iOS’ app store New York has gained many jobs in this industry. Thanks to recent cooperation between municipalities in the New York Metropolitan area and tech startups we are now a great place for tech jobs.

Google Developer Group

Please join me and more than 250 members of the official Google Developer Group for New York City at their free monthly MeetUp at  Google Chelsea Market on the Second Floor.

Google Developer Group NYC
Monday, March 6, 2017, 5PM - 8:30PM
Google Chelsea Market, 2nd Floor
75 9th Avenue, New York, NY



Distributing Free Reusable Bags to Help the Environment

As reported by 1010 WINS, I joined the Department of Sanitation in handing out close to 1,500 reusable bags to Upper East Side residents in February. Single-use plastic bags cause great harm to the environment. It is time we start decreasing their use. Last year the City Council began this process by passing a 5 cent fee to single-use plastic bags in effort to discourage their use. The fee was set to take effect in February of 2017 until the state legislature blocked it. As a result, these single use bags will continue to end up in our landfills by the billions, in our oceans harming marine life and on our streets and trees. I will continue to distribute reusable bags as we all transition away from plastic. To reduce your own impact on our landfill, come pick up a reusable bag at my district office.   


New York League of Conservation Voters Score: 100%

Each year the New York League of Conservation Voters conducts a survey of council members, tallying their pro-environment votes and co-sponsorships of pro-environment bills, to release an individual scorecard for each council member. With a perfect score of 100, I have reaffirmed my commitment to creating a greener New York City that we all can enjoy. Throughout the past year, I have fought to limit the use of non-recyclable plastic bags, volunteered in community gardens, and added new parks while beautifying our current open spaces.

Become an Environmental Ambassador for NYCHA

Live at NYCHA and want to help your neighbors recycle? Become an Environmental Ambassador! Environmental Ambassadors are NYCHA residents who are trained by DSNY’s non-profit partner GrowNYC to become community recycling experts. After completing two recycling workshops, Environmental Ambassadors conduct 12 hours of outreach at their development to encourage their neighbors to participate in the NYCHA Recycles! program. Workshops are available monthly - sign up today at:



In the Community

This month I had the pleasure of spending my nights and weekends with constituents at different events and meetings throughout the district. These included facilitating a meeting to discuss the presence of street vendors in the neighborhood with various community leaders and vendors at the Beach Cafe, opening Carnegie Hill Neighbors’ new office, Black & White Panda Ball hosted by Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, Sutton Area Community’s Annaul Meeting, the Cocktail Reception for the Viennese Opera Ball with Vienna's Vice-Mayor Renate Brauner, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s State of the Borough, Mayor de Blasio’s State of the City Address, attending Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s State of the City address, and co-sponsoring a mobile, no-cost breast cancer screening clinic at the Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center.

Queensboro Oval Update 

For more than a year residents on the Upper East Side, including members of Community Board 8, have reached out to my office about the Queensboro Oval tennis bubble and the lack of access the community felt it had to the space. Community Board 8 held more than a dozen public hearings and votes to determine the best way to use the public land as the fourth consecutive 10-year lease was expiring. Some of the complaints residents raised included the unusable conditions the field was left in by the tennis club once they removed the bubble and the tennis club being there 9 months out of the year instead of 6.

With the support of my fellow local elected officials, I set out to do what was best for the Upper East Side, a neighborhood in dire need of outdoor park space by trying to make the space where the Queensboro Oval sits open to the public as a park. Petitions were started, rallies were held in support and Community Board 8 continued to hold votes in support of an open area in this space.

Following Community Board's final resolution in January, members of the tennis club began to contact my office in support of keeping the tennis bubble open. We offered a public response based on the Community Board's resolution to the Department of Parks three options: (1) a multi-use field, (2) a multi-use field with tennis courts, and (3) issuing a new Request for Proposals. The Community Board selected option 1, a multi-use field, and demanded a return of the land to the public. 

During the February Community Board 8 meeting where the tennis bubble was not on the agenda, over 100 tennis club members showed up. I distributed my letter and made my case against anyone receiving city land below market value for 40 years without competition, raising concerns of potential corruption and a repeat of what happened at Rivington. I offered to work with the community, Community Board 8, and Riverside Clay Tennis Associaiton (or another non-profit conservancy) to maintain the field or a portion thereof for tennis. Following our public response and making my case at the community board, many members of Sutton East Tennis have divorced their support from benefiting any one individual or corporation in favor of maintaining tennis at this location.

In the time since I was deeply disappointed when the Parks Department informed me that they have not reached a decision and will be extending the lease to Sutton East for at least another year. The Parks Department has refused to open the space for others to bid on or to even consider whether a conservancy could better maintain and increase access to the courts. It was my hope that through an open and transparent process the Parks Department could do better for local residents instead of continuing to enrich a single individual or corporation by maintaining a below market lease negotiated decades ago. In response, I will seek answers as to what happened from the Parks Department and continue to support local residents and the Community Board in opening this and more park space to the public.

Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) Count

As of December 2016, there were 62,674 homeless people, including 15,856 homeless families in New York City. On February 6th, I joined the Department of Homeless Services, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and over 3,000 volunteers for the 12th annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate. Thousands of volunteers fanned out to complete the count, through which the City will gather valuable data to better serve the street homeless population.The HOPE count helps organizations like The Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness come up with tools like an interactive map that allows users to visualize homelessness among students.

As a City we must be doing everything we can to combat the homelessness crisis. The Progressive Caucus, of which I am Vice-Chair for Policy, has endorsed Andrew Hevesi’s Home Stability Support Program as covered by the New York Daily News. In the meantime, I have been working with ETHOS, the East Side Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services alongside Upper East Side electeds and nonprofits to try and bring answers and services to the Upper East Side’s homelessness problem.


Fighting for “Fair Fares”

I rallied with New Yorkers from across all five boroughs, Riders Alliance, Community Service Society of New York and members of 32BJ SEIU in support of the “Fair Fares” campaign. As public transportation costs continue to rise, more and more low-income New Yorkers are being left behind. According to a survey by the Community Service Society of New York, nearly one in four low-income New Yorkers say they cannot afford the cost of a metrocard. No one should have to beg for swipes in front of the turnstile to travel to and from work. It is essential that we set aside funds for half-priced MetroCards for those who need them in this budget cycle. Join the fight for Fair Fares at


Rally for Passage of the Right to Know Act

In February, I gathered with everyday New Yorkers organizers and activist to fight for a more accountable and transparent police force. A healthy relationship between law enforcement and our citizens is vital for the wellbeing of the city. That is why I am in favor of the The Right to Know Act which will strengthen this relationship by protecting civil and human rights while also promoting transparency in all of NYPD’s actions. For more information about how you can get involved, visit Communities United for Police Reform.


Retirement Security for All Update

58% of New York City private sector workers have no access to a retirement plan at work such as a 401K. I worked on Retirement Security for All legislation with Public Advocate Letitia James to give these workers access to retirement plans here in New York City, which would go a long way in preventing future generations of seniors from falling into poverty. Public Advocate James and I rebuked Congress for voting “YES” on resolutions H.J 66 and 67 that block state and municipal governments around the country from setting up retirement savings programs that benefit residents. The statement called attention to how many of America's seniors reach their 60s and 70s with very little in savings and too often end up in poverty. For more information read the full statements.


FREE Tank Tickets for Distribution

The Tank theater is home for some of the most exciting and adventurous new work in New York City. Running 6-10 shows per week across a variety of disciplines (theater, music, comedy, storytelling, dance, and more) by artists all new to the scene, The Tank has something for everyone. To view our performance schedule, please visit Free tickets are available to senior and youth centers as well as residents in District 5 (subject to availability), so please email infoatthetanknyc [dot] org and copy rsvpatbenkallos [dot] com, with the show, performance date, how many tickets you would like, your name and in-district address.

This Month's Shows:

1/20 - 5/19, The Armory (Comedy)
2/21 - 3/12, the ephemera trilogy (Theater)
3/2, Deliver Us from the Donald (Music)
3/2 - 3/3, Puppet Playlist #23: Beyonce (Theater)
3/4 - 3/5, The Missing Shade of You (Dance)
3/9 - 3/19, The Seminar with Madge and Taffy (Theater)
3/9, The Resistance Cabaret (Music)
3/10, Time Simply Passes (Film)
3/16 - 4/2, Photo & Supply (Theater)
3/21, The Tank's Annual Spring Benefit


Free Fire Education Workshop Hosted

I co-sponsored a free fire education workshop at the Upper East Rehabilitation and Nursing Center to spread awareness amongst senior citizens and the community about how easy it is to prevent most fires.  According to the FDNY annual report, there were nearly 6,000 building fires in Manhattan last year alone. Sadly, most of these incidents are entirely preventable with the proper education and tools. At the fire prevention event, I joined firefighter Jimmy Lee and the man he rescued back in October of 2016 during a fire in the Upper East Side, 81-year-old James Duffy, speaking about the importance of maintaining smoke detectors in households, and the necessity of continually educating yourself and your family about fire prevention. More information is available through


Manhattan Sideways Photo Exhibit

I joined local business owners at Ryan's Daughter an Upper East Side bar for Manhattan Sideways ( a photography tour through the East 80s celebrating Manhattan's small businesses. Manhattan Sideways' website is filled with thoughtful articles. They are devoted to exploring the hidden gems of the city's side streets. It was great meeting local businesses owners, photographers, and Betsy Bober Polivy creator of Manhattan Sideways.





Legislative Corner

This month I voted for legislation to alleviate the City’s homelessness crisis as well as to assist our seniors with the costs of living in an increasingly unaffordable city.

Three Quarter Housing. The exploitation of vulnerable New Yorkers at transitional homes is an issue we must solve quickly and decisively. Thankfully, the Council passed five bills to do just that:

  • §  Local Law 12 of 2017, sponsored by Council Member Johnson, requires the Human Resources Administration (HRA) to send information about tenancy rights to all recipients of the public assistance shelter allowance to inform those most at risk of illegal eviction and homelessness.
  • §  Local Law 13 of 2017, sponsored by Council Member Richards, requires the City’s Task Force on Three-Quarter Housing to publicly report on its activities and establish public oversight over the City’s efforts to curb use of these illegal dwellings.
  • §  Local Law 14 of 2017, sponsored by Council Member Torres, removes the 90-day deadline for vulnerable tenants to establish their eligibility for relocation services from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), opening access to vital housing resources for many individuals who make initial unsuccessful attempts to find alternative solutions to homelessness.
  • §  Local Law 15 of 2017, sponsored by Council Member Torres, prevents unscrupulous and abusive landlords from profiting from referrals to substance abuse treatment programs that may not be suitable for a tenant’s needs.
  • §  Local Law 16 of 2017, sponsored by Council Member Williams, expands the types of acceptable documentation of residency that HPD must accept when someone is applying for emergency relocation services.


  • Local Law 24 of 2017, sponsored by Council Member Chin, codifies the Council’s efforts to increase the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE). In 2014, New York State authorized a two year increase in the income limit, from $29,000 to $50,000, which the Council Approved. This bill extends that authorization period further, to 2020.
  • Local Law 10 of 2017, sponsored by Council Member Cabrera, ensures the City disseminates this information so seniors can work with the City to determine if they qualify.


Free Legal Clinics

Need a lawyer? Every month I sponsor legal clinics where you can get free legal advice in my District Office at 244 East 93rd Street from 3pm-6pm:

Housing Clinics, Every Monday
Family Law and Domestic Violence, 1st Tuesday
Life Planning Clinic, 3rd Wednesday
Land Use and Land marking Clinic, 2nd Thursday (5pm-6pm)

Please call my office at 212-860-1950 in advance to schedule your appointment.


Here to Help

We are here to help. My social work team can help you find out what services you are eligible for and assist you in your application. Some examples include:

  • Seniors: Medicare savings, Meals-on-Wheels, Access-A-Ride
  • Housing: searching for affordable units, free legal housing clinic at my office
  • Jobs: training resources and assistance, unemployment benefits
  • Families: Universal Pre-K, Head Start, After-School programs
  • Finances: cash assistance, tax credits, home energy assistance
  • Nutrition: WIC, free meals for all ages

Please also call us at 212-860-1950 or email at bkallosatbenkallos [dot] com with any unresolved 311 complaints.


Mobile District Hours

Get assistance wherever in the district you are when we bring our office to you. Please join us at monthly mobile district hours from 11am-2pm:


Ben in Your Building

The "Ben in Your Building Program" is a chance to discuss issues of importance to you and your neighbors in person, in your home. If you gather 10 or more friends, I will come to you. Over the past year, I have visited several buildings to discuss matters of importance in the neighborhood, including efforts to fight the Marine Transfer Station, sanitation and condo owner issues. Please schedule a "Ben in Your Building" today by calling 212-860-1950 or email scheduleratbenkallos [dot] com




City Council Events

3/3: First Friday
8:00am-10:00am, District Office, 244 East 93rd Street
Meet Ben in person and meet with your neighbors to discuss what's important to you. Feel free to drop in or leave at any time during First Friday. Learn about what is happening in your community and how to get involved in working together to make our neighborhood a better place to live. RSVP

3/4: Healthcare Town Hall Hosted by Liz Krueger
2:30-5:00pm, CUNY, The Graduate Center, Elebash Recital Hall, 365 Fifth Avenue
I am proud to co-sponsor a town hall meeting hosted by Senator Liz Krueger to explore proposed threats to healthcare, the ACA, and reproductive freedom under the Trump administration, as well as actions New York State can take to address these changes. Speakers will also address ways to get involved in the fight to protect healthcare access.State Senator Liz Krueger will moderate the discussion. Speakers will include:

  • Assembly Member Richard Gottfried
  • Elisabeth Benjamin, Community Service Society
  • Elizabeth Adams, Planned Parenthood of NY

RSVP: lizatlizkrueger [dot] com or (212) 490-9535

3/11: Shred-A-Thon Pre Ides of March edition
10am-2pm, 82St.Greenmarket, 82nd Street between First & York
Bring us those decades-old cancelled checks, yellowing tax forms from the last century, receipts for appliances you’ve replaced at least twice.No cardboard or plastic-handled shopping bags. No hardcover books (but paperbacks are fine).RSVP

3/14: Brainstorming with Ben
6:00pm, District Office, 244 East 93rd Street
Brainstorm with Ben is a chance for residents who have a policy idea they want to pitch and help implement; the goal is to empower residents who are looking to do the research, community organizing, and advocacy needed to turn ideas into real solutions.

3/18: Chess in the Schools
10:am-2:15pm,Eleanor Roosevelt High School, 411 E 76th Street
The tournament is open to public school students of all ages; registration is due by March 14th. I hope to see you and your families there! RSVP

3/22-3/23: The PS 183 Sotheby’s Art Show
Reception 5pm -7pm, Sotheby's, 1334 York Avenue
We invite you to attend this annual public school art show featuring student work at Sotheby's. This event is organized both by my office and PS 183.
artshowatbenkallos [dot] com


Government Meetings

These meetings are subject to change after the publication of the newsletter. Please check updated websites and notices for confirmation.

Community Boards

3/2: Community Board 11 (96th to 145th Streets) Rezoning Taskforce
6:00pm-7:00pm, Board Office, 1664 Park Avenue

3/16: Community Board 11 (96th to 145th Streets) Rezoning Taskforce
6:00pm-7:00pm, Board Office, 1664 Park Avenue

3/23: Community Board 11 (96th to 145th Streets) Executive Meeting
7:00pm-8:00pm, Board Office, 1664 Park Avenue

3/1: Community Board 8: Transportation Committee
6:30pm-7:30pm, New York Blood Center, 310 East 67th Street

3/2: Community Board 8: Parks and Recreation Committee
6:30pm-7:30pm, Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, 415 East 93rd Street
On the agenda: Discussion of Queensboro Oval

3/7: Community Board 8: Street Life Committee
6:30pm-7:30pm, Lenox Hill Hospital, Einhorn Auditorium, 131 East 76th Street

3/15: Community Board 8: Full Board Meeting
6:30pm-8:30pm, Ramaz School, Heyman Auditorium, 125 East 86th Street

3/8: Community Board 6 (14th to 59th Streets) Full Board Meeting
7:00pm-9:30pm, 301 East 17th Street, Hospital for Joint Diseases

3/15: Community Board 6 (14th to 59th Streets) Executive Committee Meeting
6:30pm-8:30pm, Board Office, 866 United Nations Plaza


New York Police Department

First Monday: 19th Precinct Community Council (59th to 96th Streets)
7:00pm, 153 East 67th Street

Third Thursday: 23rd Precinct Community Council (96th to 115th Streets)
6:00pm, 162 East 102th Street

Fourth Tuesday: 17th Precinct Community Council (30th to 59th Streets)
6:00pm, 225 East 51st Street

Neighborhood and Tenant Associations

3/1: Roosevelt Island Residents Association
8:00pm-10:00pm, Good Shepherd, 543 Main Street, Roosevelt Island

First Wednesday: Lexington Houses Tenant Association
6:00pm, 1536 Lexington Avenue

Second Tuesday: Stanley Isaacs Tenant Association
7:00pm, Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, 415 East 93rd Street

Third Tuesday: Holmes Towers Tenant Association
7:00pm, Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, 415 East 93rd Street

Third Thursday: East 79th Street Neighborhood Association
6:00pm-8:00pm, Upper East Side Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, 211 East 79th Street

Third Thursday: Robins Plaza Monthly Meeting
3:00pm-4:00pm, 341 East  70th Street (at 1st Ave.)


Community Events for Kids

Every Tuesday - Saturday: Quiet Study Room
Tuesdays and Wednesdays 1-5pm, Thursdays 12-5pm, Fridays and Saturdays 10-3pm, 67th Street Library
There's no talking, no cell phone, no noise at all in our quiet study room. This room is open thanks to our volunteers, and is subject to their availability. If you are interested in keeping the quiet study room open more hours, please see a staff member about becoming a volunteer! Subject to cancellation / change of hours without prior notice.

Every Monday- Friday: Teen Tech
3:00pm, 67th Street Library
Come to our third floor computer lab and use the computers for homework or for fun! Teens Only! Ages 12-18.

Every Monday: Stories and Crafts
4pm, 96th Street Library
Messy art projects for children ages 2-5

Every Wednesday: Preschool Stories and Films
10:30am-12pm, 96th Street Library
Read aloud and films for young children

Every Monday: Baby Storytime
11:00am, Roosevelt Island Library
Babies from birth to 18 months old and their parents/caregivers can enjoy great books, lively songs, and rhymes, and meet other babies in the neighborhood.

Every Wednesday: Toddler Storytime
10:15am-12:15pm, Roosevelt Island Library
Toddlers from 18 months to 3 years and their parents/caregivers can enjoy interactive stories, action songs, fingerplays, and spend time with other toddlers in the neighborhood.

Every Saturday: Kids’ Coloring Club
10:00am, Yorkville Library
Join us every Saturday morning from 10am-12pm for our Kids' Coloring Club -- children of all ages are invited to color coloring sheets featuring their favorite characters, seasonal designs, and more. Feel free to bring your favorite coloring book!

Every Saturday: Read to Fritz, our New York Therapy Dog!
11:00am, Yorkville Library
Come read to our therapy dog Fritz! These licensed therapy dogs and their owners can't wait for you to come read them a story. Enjoy one-on-one, no-pressure reading time with a furry friend! Pre-registration is required for each 15-minute slot and opens 1 week in advance. For ages 5 and up. Available every Saturday in the children's story time room.

3/2: Diversity in Art - A Film and Craft Program
4:00pm, 67th Street Library|
"Picked." Directed by Kelsey Amelia Snelling This is an art program highlighting diversity. Participants will watch a short film titled "Picked" followed by a Dr Seuss storytime and a craft. Open to children age 4+. First Come, First Served. **Fun fact TODAY is Dr Seuss' birthday. Born March 2, 1904. We will celebrate diversity with a Dr Seuss theme! Film Description: A girl's quest for the "perfect" pumpkin sets her apart from her peers.

3/2: Read Across America Day
3:30-5:00pm, Yorkville Library
Drop in and spend some time celebrating Dr. Seuss and National Read Across America day! This is the perfect time to read one-on-one with a parent or caregiver, or do a fun Dr. Seuss puzzle! Books to take home will be handed out on a first come, first serve basis. This event is perfect for children all children under 12 years of age.

3/3: Magnetic Magic
3:00pm, Roosevelt Island LibrarY
Explore the power of magnets. Create electromagnets and control a compass needle. See a magnetic accelerator in action. Grab a Magnet Lab™ for some at-home research. Best for children ages 5 and older. Limit to 15 participants only. Presented by Mad Science.

3/7: Fuji Instax Theme-Based Bookmaking Workshop
4:00pm, 96th Street Library
Students learn to use Fuji Instax cameras and make instant photographs in this theme-based workshop. Each student will make a book and create a story with multiple images and accompanying words. Presented by International Center for Photography. For ages 13 to 18 years old.

3/7: Citywide Transit Launch Workshop
6:00 – 8:00pm
Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building,163 W. 125th Street, 2nd Floor

The Citywide Transit Plan aims to addresses the equity and sustainability goals of OneNYC and the framework presented last year in the NYCDOT Strategic Plan 2016: Safe*Green*Smart*Equitable as well as NYC’s Roadmap to 80x50.                 

3/8: The Art of Making Beats
4:00pm, Yorkville Library
Music production remains largely a mystery. Everyone hears music, but few have a thorough understanding of how music is assembled in a studio setting. This lesson gives an introduction on how music is recorded, sequenced, mixed and mastered using the iPad2. Presented by Bridging Education & Art Together (BEAT). For ages 13 to 18 years old.

3/10: Puzzle Fun for Kids
3:00-4:00pm, Yorkville Library
Come to the library for some puzzles and fun! This program is great for all ages.

3/21: Reading Aloud
4:00pm, Webster Library
A librarian will share favorite picture books, providing children with the wonder of books, and the joy of reading.

3/24: March Craft Time
3:00pm, Yorkville Library
It's Craft Time at Yorkville!!! Drop in for a quick craft. Bring your creativity and make something special to take home. Ages 3 and up.

3/27: Kid Flicks
4:00pm, Yorkville Library
Join us in our community room for our children's film showing!

3/29: Spoken Word 101
4:00pm, Webster Library
Learn how to find your voice by creating original poetry through writing exercises in a safe space where emotional honesty is encouraged. Participants will polish their public performance skills under the guidance of a veteran professional poet. Videos of Slam
Poets will be viewed and discussed. Presented by Bobby Gonzalez. For ages 13 to 18 years old.


Community Events for Adults

Every Thursday: Techconnect Computer Lab
12pm, Computer Lab, 96th Street Library
Tech volunteers assist you with almost any computer topic you want to learn.   Topics include computer basics, Microsoft Word, online shopping, email, ect.  Space is limited and sign-up is required. (212)-289-0908 for RSVP

Every Tuesday: Bilingual Birdies: French
11:30am, 67th Street Library
Teachers play guitar and sing with the children as they learn new vocabulary through music, movement, and puppetry! Bilingual Birdies will be exploring themes including Farm Animals, Jungle Animals, Colors, and Transportation this winter. They provide instruments and props for the children to use as well as a free CD download of their original music for all parents and librarians to keep the learning going throughout the week. Ages newborn to 6 years old.

Every Friday: AARP Tax Aide:
10am-2pm, 67th Street Library
AARP volunteers, who are certified by the IRS, prepare all returns.  There is no cost to you for preparation and no cost to you for electronic filing (e-file).

Every Saturday: English Conversation Group
11:00am, 67th Street Library
Talk with native speakers and other language learners about current events, New York City, family life, holidays, and much more. For adults 16 years old or older. This program is provided in partnership with New York Cares, a leading volunteer organization that helps people find easy ways to make meaningful, rewarding contributions to their communities. Led by New York Cares volunteers, this program provides an opportunity for intermediate level ESOL speakers to practice speaking English.

3/2: Knitting and Crochet
11:30am, Roosevelt Island Library
Knitting and Crochet

3/2: Women’s Writing Group
4:30pm, 67th Street Library
Hannelore Hahn, who directed the International Women's Writing Guild for 37 years, hosts a monthly informal women’s writing & discussion group. Everyone welcome for discussion too!

3/2: 6:00pm Manhattan Borough Board Public Hearing on Greater East Midtown Rezoning Proposal
Guttman Community College, 50 West 40th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues)

3/4: Music - Wagner's GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG (Prologue & Act 1) recital by New York Opera Forum
1:00pm, 96th Street Library
Free admission to a live musical recital performed in concert with piano accompaniment.

3/6: Author Talk with Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
5:30-6:30pm, Yorkville Library
Jennifer Keishin Armstrong comes to Yorkville Library to discuss and sign copies of her most recent book, Seinfeldia: The Secret World of the Show About Nothing that Changed Everything.

3/6: Mystery Mondays
4:00pm, 67th Street Library
This group is dedicated to discussing books featuring suspense, secrets, and lies. Today, they will be discussing Lost Girl by Robert Kolker.

3/6: Chefs Working to Improve the Food System
8:30-10:15am, Hunter College (SB Building) 2180 3rd Avenue
Teaching Kitchen Chef Lynn Loflin will be speaking at the NYC Food Policy Center with an esteemed panel, including Sam Kass, Liz Neumark and Chef Toni!  Together with moderator Charles Platkin, PhD, JD, MPH, the group will discuss how chefs are working to impact the food system and make lasting change. RSVP suggested.

3/9: Internet Safety
5:30pm, Webster Library
Internet Safety This presentation discusses the ways in which individuals can be victimized online and provides useful information about how to manage one’s online presence to avoid potentially dangerous situations.

3/9: Knitting and Crochet
11:30am, Roosevelt Island Library
Knitting and Crochet

3/9: Film - DESTRY RIDES AGAIN (1939)
2:00pm, 96th Street Library
Free admission and free showing of Destry Rides Again

3/9: Spa Day in the 19th Century
6:30pm, Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden
Visitors create creams and cosmetics used in the antebellum era. Learn about which cosmetics complied with standards of beauty and propriety. $20 adults, $15 members and students with ID.

3/9: Building History Detective
630pm, Jan Hus Presbyterian Church 351 East 74th Street
Have you ever wanted to learn more about a building in your neighborhood? When it was built, which architect designed it, and who may have lived there? Become a Building History Detective! This presentation will show the various online tools and resources that we can use to uncover a building's architectural and social history.
$10 members, $20 non-members
To register, click HERE, or call 212-535-2526.

3/10: Retirement Planning
3:00pm, 67th Street Library
Meet and speak with retirement planning specialist, Alan Katz, CFP. This retirement funding and planning workshop explains: the important stages of money through life and what it means to families, how to understand the risks of various investment types, how asset allocation can affect your retirement plan.

3/11: Career Transition - Job Search 101
2:00pm, Yorkville Library
Speaker, trainer, and certified professional coach, Barbara Phillips, will help participants get greater clarity on key elements of the job search process and explain key tools for finding a “best fit” job.

3/12: Jazz Choreography Project
2:00pm, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Auditorium
The New York Jazz Choreography Project is a celebration of jazz dance featuring original works by emerging and established choreographers. The audience will be treated to dances in a variety of jazz styles—from swing to contemporary—and have the chance to see the richness of this great American art form.

3/13: Common Injuries in the Active Adult
6:00-7:00pm, 535 East 70th Street, 2nd Floor
Being an active runner, spinner, swimmer or cross-fitness trainer is a fun and a great way to stay healthy. However, participating in these activities may also cause injury. Sports Safety Program Manager Joseph Janosky explains how to detect and prevent these injuries. RSVP required.

3/16: Knitting and Crochet
11:30am, Roosevelt Island Library
Knitting and Crochet

3/16: Discussion Group; The Myths of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky
6:30pm, Roosevelt Island Library
The group will discuss The Myths of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky.

3/11: Volunteer Gardening
9:30am-12:30pm, East 86th Street and East End
Join neighbors and friends and pitch in!

3/22: Historic Cooking Workshops: Queen Cakes
6:30pm-8:00pm Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden,421 East 61st Street, New York, NY 10065
Celebrate women’s history month by making Queen Cakes from historic recipes and discover the connection between food and women’s rights in the 19th century.
$20 Adults; $15 Members and Students
Please call (212)838-6878 to make reservations and for more information.

3/23: Film - ON BORROWED TIME (1939)
2:00pm, 96th Street Library
Free admission and free showing of On Borrowed Time.

3/23: Knitting and Crochet
11:30am, Roosevelt Island Library
Knitting and Crochet

3/24: Seated Stage
3:00pm, 67th Street Library
Play reading group for adults who love the theater, drama, and literature.

3/27: Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District’s Awards Ceremony
6:30pm, 122 East 66th Street
We are pleased to hold our 34th Annual Meeting & Awards Ceremony at The Cosmopolitan Club. Please join us in celebrating our awardees at this momentous occasion! Proper attire is required (jackets for men and attire of similar formality for women).

3/28: Adult Coloring
12:00pm, Roosevelt Island Library
Coloring for Adults

3/28: Western Book Discussion - Outlaws from Afar by Max Brand
6:30pm, Roosevelt Island Library
The group will Discuss Outlaws from Afar by Max Brand.

3/30: Knitting and Crochet
11:30am, Roosevelt Island Library
Knitting and Crochet


Job Postings

Summer Youth Employment from the Department of Youth & Community Development

Searching for a summer job? Looking to gain in-field work experience? If you are  between the ages of 14-24, New York City can provide you with paid summer employment for up to six weeks in July and August. Applications must be done online by March 17th at

CitiBike is Hiring

As we gear up for peak season, Citi Bike is hiring for several positions! Positions include Squad Leader, Squad Member, Station Valet Attendant, Quality Assurance and Training Specialist, and Bike Mechanic.


Resources Funded in Part by My Office

Each year my office provides discretionary funding to non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations that serve residents of Council District 5. We have curated a list of resources funded in part by my office so that you can take advantage of them for free.

Add your non-profit's resources to this list by emailing budgetatbenkallos [dot] com. Learn more about your resources at


Community Resources

Financial Empowerment Workshops and AARP Tax Aide

In partnership with Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House is offering free Financial Empowerment Workshops. The next workshops are March 1st, 8th, and March 15th. From 6pm to 8pm.

Lenox Hill Neighborhood House is also hosting AARP Tax Aide to offering free tax preparation. This service is open to the public on Wednesdays through April 12th from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. in 1st floor conference room A.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Ibersteinatlenoxhill [dot] org or call 212-218-0413

Volunteers of Legal Service

VOLS is hosting a FREE “Who will Decide For Me?”
presentation for seniors at the
Carter Burden/ Roosevelt Island Senior Center
546 Main Street, Roosevelt Island
Thursday, March 16, 12:30PM

Some of the topics attendees will receive guidance on include:

  • Healthcare Advance Directives
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Last WIlls and Testaments
  • Burial Planning  

RSVP by calling 212-980-1888


St. James Church Grants Program

The Grants Committee at St. James Church is considering applicants for 2017. The grant range is $3,00-$7,000 and these funds are meant to aid small agencies that help support and transform the experience of our most vulnerable neighbors. Applications are due by March 24th. Please contact Susana Ferrer by sferreratstjames [dot] org (email) or phone at (212) 774-4236 for more information.


Searching for Nominees for the New York Public Library’s 2017 Astor Award

The Astor Award is presented annually to an exceptional unsung hero whose career has been dedicated to improving his or her community in New York City. This year’s Astor Award will be presented on Thursday, May 18, 2017.In addition to recognition, the winner will be awarded a cash prize of $10,000. The ideal Astor Award candidate could be an educator or nonprofit leader whose work has improved the lives of children and families in the City’s most under-resourced neighborhoods. To submit your nominee, please fill out the form found here. You can also learn more about the history of the Brooke Russell Astor Award here.

Please note that the deadline for nominations is Monday, March 27, 2017. Please contact nypleventsatnypl [dot] org or 212-930-0019 should you have any questions or would like to send any supplemental materials on your nominee.

NYC Neighborhood Library Awards

A library in our community could win $20,000, which would make an enormous difference in terms of the materials and programs available to residents. Thanks to the NYC Neighborhood Library Awards every year six libraries are awarded a grand prize of $20,000 each and five runners-up a $10,000 each, based on nominations from library users across the City. To make a nomination visit  and choose through March 13th.


LGBTQ Survey 

Our city has an obligation to care for its seniors, including members of the Stonewall generation of LGBTQ individuals who led us through the darkest days of the HIV/AIDS crisis. This citywide survey will help determine what affordable housing for these seniors is available,where the greatest needs are, and what additional obstacles the LGBTQ elderly population is facing. The survey, which will be online until April 15, 2017, is available in English and Spanish and can be taken at The anonymous responses will be used to understand the “housing market profile” of the community and will inform strategies to deal with this upcoming crisis.         


Apply for Affordable Housing

210 East 39th Street
Applications are now being accepted for 11 newly constructed units at 210 East 39th Street in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan. Visit NYC Housing Connect to APPLY ONLINE  and view the project's information. Make sure your profile is updated before applying.

2139 Third Avenue
Applications are now being accepted for 5 newly constructed units at 2139 Third Avenue in the East Harlem section of Manhattan. Visit NYC Housing Connect to APPLY ONLINE  and view the project's information. Make sure your profile is updated before applying.


Summer Debate Institute

The New York City Urban League is hosting summer debate institutes for elementary, middle school, and high school students in Manhattan, Queens, and Harlem. Students will have the opportunity to work with talented coaches to develop their public speaking, research, reading, writing and critical thinking skills. Register here!


Yorkville Softball League for Girls (YSLG)

Spring is in the air & Softball season is near! If your daughter aged 7-18 is interested in softball, come join other girls from the neighborhood to create new friends, learn new skills, be active & develop a sense of teamwork/community. The majority of games are played on Saturdays on the Upper East Side and in Central Park. The season runs April 1 thru mid-June. Attached below is an informational flyer for the Yorkville Softball League for Girls ( Click on the link or the website for more information or to register. Registration is open until March 15th. YSLG is a non-profit chartered by Little League Baseball and is the largest girls softball league in NYC.