Press Releases

August 16, 2017

Yesterday’s lawsuit against a company owned by Jared Kushner highlights the City of New York's obligation to ensure tenants are not being cheated by unscrupulous landlords. The allegations are yet more proof of a broken system that allows landlords to charge tenants more than they are legally allowed. After exhaustive research by ProPublica, it is estimated that 50,000-200,000 units in New York City may be illegally rented at market rate. This issue is one of the most serious problems in our fight for affordable housing and why I authored Introduction 1015.
 Introduction 1015 requires all owners of any affordable units in New York City to register those units with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and disclose the monthly rent. That allows the City to track the locations of these units and verify they are being rented at or below the legally allowable rate and fine bad landlords who flout the law.
 
While State law requires landlords to register with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the penalties for non-compliance were removed in 1993. It is a law without teeth, unable to force or persuade landlords to comply.
 
I applaud Housing Rights Initiative for their thorough research into these properties. But it should not have taken over a month of painstaking efforts to find this information. It should be as easy as going to HPD’s website. More importantly, the City should be doing this proactively.

 

August 9, 2017

New York, NY – Council Member Ben Kallos Vice Chair of the caucus was the prime sponsor of Int. 930 and 931 which aim to correct the behavior of  landlords and building owners that neither fix reoccurring problems on their properties nor pay the fines that go along with those violations, putting tenants in unsafe conditions sometimes for years on end. The Stand For Tenant Safety (STS) legislative package will offer greater protection for tenants, especially in regards to the use of construction as harassment by landlords. STS was pushed by a citywide alliance of grassroots tenant organizations and legal service groups collaborating with the Progressive Caucus.

 

"Believe it or not, construction being used to harass and push tenants out is a huge problem in New York City. This package of legislation aims to fix the behavior of unscrupulous landlords who cut corners, neglect repairs and take advantage of loopholes to hurt tenants and avoid paying fines. Thank you to the coalition of tenant organizations and legal service groups that worked for two years to get these bills passed, “said Council Member Ben Kallos Vice chair of the Progressive Caucus.

 

August 3, 2017

New York, NY – Upper East Side bus riders may have noticed something new on their rides, bus countdown clocks showing when the next bus is coming. The bus countdown clocks were actually voted for by local residents in Participatory Budgeting and are a part of Council Member Ben Kallos’ fight against service cuts to the M31, M66, M72, and other bus routes in the neighborhood.
 
“I hope that new bus countdown clocks will bring more riders back to our buses, as they walk by and see a bus on the way to help get them where they are going faster,” said Council Member Ben Kallos who rides the M15, M31, and M79 through the district. “Riders will finally know when the next bus is coming or if it isn’t coming at all, so they can make that crucial decision of whether it is faster to ride or walk. I hope to have a bus countdown clock anywhere my constituents will use them so please reach out for one at your bus stop today.”
 
“Neighborhoods flourish when they have a multitude of transportation options, and NYC DOT is proud to work with the community and CM Kallos to continue bringing transportation upgrades to the Upper East Side,” said DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Luis Sanchez.  “With the arrival of Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) bus countdown clocks, and a new Citi Bike station in this district, Upper East Siders are able to receive visual and audible real-time bus arrival information should they decide to get around by bus, as well as a denser Citi Bike network should they choose to bike.”
 
The bus countdown clocks were three years in the making. In 2014, Rider’s Alliance advocated for bus countdown clocks in the city’s capital budget, but was met with some skepticism by Council Member Ben Kallos, who agreed to add the bus countdown clocks to Participatory Budgeting where residents voted on how to spend one million dollars in the community.

 

August 2, 2017

Statement: Council Member Ben Kallos on Voter Data Release
 Today’s decision by the New York State Board of Elections is a shameful capitulation to the President’s fear mongering about voter fraud. Allegations of widespread voter fraud have repeatedly been disproven and there exists no evidence to suggest it occurred in last November’s election or any election.
 
The President’s sham commission is nothing more than yet another Republican attempt to restrict voting rights and only serves to perpetuate dangerous myths and spread doubt about our democratic process. That the commissioners of the State Board of Elections would assist such a commission casts doubt on their integrity and their commitment to protecting the personal data of New York’s 12.5 million voters.

 

August 1, 2017

Photo caption (L-R):  Mark Hannay (Director, Metro New York Health Care for All), Richard Mollot (Executive Director, The Long Term Care Community Coalition), Assemblymember Richard N. Gottfried, Peter Morley (Patient Advocate), Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Councilmember Ben Kallos, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Michael Rawlings (Chief Operating Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue)

NEW YORK—Following the failure of Senate Republicans’ proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) hosted a roundtable at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue with healthcare professionals, patient advocates, and concerned constituents to discuss the future of the health care law. The group focused on steps forward, strategies for strengthening the ACA, and ways to combat Administration efforts to undermine the landmark legislation.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions more Americans have access to good, affordable healthcare. We need to preserve the protections the ACA put in place and build on our progress,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “Democrats and Republicans must work together to bring down costs and expand coverage to really deliver the A—affordable—of the ACA. Although the ACA has done really tremendous things, a stronger, better version can do more – and its’ up to us in Congress to make that happen. Prices are still too high. There are counties where the exchanges have one or no insurers. We can do better. If Republicans can drop their obsession with repealing the ACA, then we can get to work on making sure all Americans have access to good, affordable and reliable healthcare.”

"The Affordable Care Act has helped millions of Americans get the health insurance they need to live healthy lives," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "When Congress passed the ACA many amendments were necessary to pass this historic legislation, but now is the time to revisit those amendments and make it even stronger. Thank you to Congress Member Carolyn Maloney for leading the charge on protecting and improving the Affordable Care Act."

 

July 25, 2017

NEW YORK—The Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications today released the annual update to the NYC Open Data Plan, a schedule of public datasets City agencies plan to release through 2018. Over the last year, agencies have released datasets across hundreds of categories, from the number of trees planted to FDNY incident dispatch numbers. The annual update is part of Open Data for All, a strategic overhaul around how the City collects and reports data to New Yorkers, with a focus on helping as many New Yorkers as possible view, understand, and engage with information that describes how government is helping them live, work, and play.

"Open Data empowers residents with data they need to learn about city services first hand and is an invaluable tool for elected officials like me to analyze and oversee how our city delivers services,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “In particular, I’m excited to see the inclusion of the Programs and Benefits API. Residents can now get the help they need from a list of benefits available, who qualifies and how to apply. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and DoITT Commissioner Anne Roest for continuing to make New York City more transparent with each new data set."

 

 

July 24, 2017

"We are breaking ground on a new East River Esplanade that was literally crumbling into the river after generations of neglect," said Council Member Ben Kallos, who advocated for the $41 million in the City's budget for this work and co-chairs the East River Esplanade Task Force with Congress Member Carolyn Maloney. "Having already secured this funding, we were able to get shovels in the ground soon after the sea wall collapse occurred here at Carl Schurz Park. This investment spans two Council Districts to fix various collapses and sinkholes between 63rd and 125th Streets. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for agreeing to provide $35 million in initial funding for the Esplanade, the Parks Department for getting these repairs started in time to address the recent collapse, and Congress Member Carolyn Maloney for prioritizing our waterfronts and her longstanding co-leadership of the East River Esplanade Task Force."

 

 

July 24, 2017

"As an elected official, it's in my job description to stand with my constituents -- all of my constituents. Many New York residents are immigrants, and all of us should do what we can to actively welcome them into our city. I'd like to extend a huge thanks to the hackers and programmers who showed up today to say that they do," said Councilman Ben Kallos, New York City Council, 5th District.

 

 

July 21, 2017

The New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of tenants at 90 West Street who sued their landlord after their rents were substantially raised, even though their apartments were stabilized through 421(g). In August 2016, Public Advocate James, along with 37 elected officials, filed an amicus brief in support of the tenants who were forced to pay unfair rent increases by their landlord on their rent stabilized apartments. The judge ruled that the tenants will maintain their rent stabilized status and a referee will be appointed to determine damages. 

This is the second lawsuit involving 421(g) that tenants have won this month to protect all units of affordable housing that received the 421(g) tax abatement. On July 3, the New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of tenants at 50 Murray Street who also sued their landlord when rents were substantially raised despite being stabilized through 421(g).

“New York City's housing crisis is harming our City one family at a time,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “This case was clear from the beginning: greedy landlords trying to double dip and cheat the system by cashing in on luxury deregulation exclusions while at the same time getting tax breaks for rent controlled units. The law is clear and it must be followed. Thank you to Tish James for being the advocate and attorney for millions of rent regulated New Yorkers who now more than ever need vigorous, committed defenders.”

 

July 20, 2017

Upper East Side- NY Compost On–the-Go, is a new program from GrowNYC’s zero waste initiatives funded by the NYC Department of Sanitation. Compost On–the-Go increases access to food waste composting for New Yorkers in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan.  Conveniently located near transit, drop-off sites are staffed by friendly compost coordinators ready to accept fruit and vegetable scraps as residents head out to start the day. In support of this environmentally savvy program Council Member Ben Kallos  joined a team of GrowNYC volunteers and employees at the 96th Street & Lexington Ave (6 Train) station on Thursday July 20th at 10am. Residents who wish to participate in composting are encouraged to drop off acceptable items every Wednesday from 7:15 am to 10:30am.  DSNY will transport collected scraps to a regional facility to be transformed into compost.  

 

July 19, 2017

New York, NY – Noise is the number one complaint in New York City, but to Council Member Ben Kallos and Environmental Chair Costa Constantinides it doesn’t need to be a fact of life in the Big Apple. Kallos and Constantinides introduced legislation in June to be heard in the fall that would require the city to respond to noise complaints for nightlife and construction within two hours or on a subsequent day within an hour of the time of the complaint. The bill aims to increase the likelihood that inspectors will identify the source of the noise, issue a violation, and restore quiet.
 
“Noise is such a big problem that it might be better to call us ‘Noise’ York City. If 311 is any indication, residents are tired of all the noise, and it is time we did something about it,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “It is hard to imagine a government of the people for the people ignoring the people’s top complaint and expecting them to be happy living here. I am disappointed by recent reports that the city is actually doing less to quiet noise as complaints rise. We as a city need to take this problem seriously, take it head on without excuses, and give every New Yorker the peace and quiet they need.”
 

 

July 17, 2017

Dear Chairman and Commissioners,

 We write once again on behalf of the 8.5 million residents of New York City to protect and promote the Open Internet and net neutrality.

 New York City, through its City Council and its Mayor, is committed to universal broadband in order to bridge the digital divide. Yet the divide between those who can access reasonable broadband service and those who cannot will remain unbridgeable unless the Commission uses its mandate to expand access to broadband to protect and promote the Open Internet and net neutrality. There are 6.4 million people in New York State who have yet to adopt broadband, whose access to necessary and useful information and applications must be protected and promoted. Whether you use legal authority deriving from Telecommunications Act of 1996, Section 706 –the mandate to promote broadband deployment – or reclassify broadband under Title II of the Communications Act, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must protect the Free and Open Internet.

 Without net neutrality, cable companies would have the power to censor, block or otherwise discriminate against the digital tools necessary to thrive in the modern world.

 

July 12, 2017

The hackathon will feature speakers, judges, and mentors from the New York City Council, New York State Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance, FWD.us, Fueled, Major League Hacking, New York Immigration Coalition, CUNY Dreamers and other New York-area organizations. Event sponsors include Impact Hub NYC, The Studio Project, Innovation Collective, “I Am An Immigrant,” Major League Hacking, Civic Hall, and AlleyWatch.


This year’s hackathon theme is “I Stand With Immigrants.” Participants will come together to build apps, websites, and other digital products to highlight the immigrant experience and create opportunities for allies to stand in solidarity with New York’s vibrant immigrant community. The theme is a continuation of the new Immigrant Heritage Month 2017 campaign from “I Am An Immigrant,” titled “I Stand With Immigrants,” a call for immigrants and allies across the country to celebrate our nation’s shared immigrant heritage.

 

July 5, 2017

New York, NY - Four new active neighborhood leaders join Community Board 8 after being nominated by Council Member Ben Kallos and appointed by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Manhattan's 12 community boards are local organizations each composed of 50 volunteer members serving staggered two-year terms.  Community boards are tasked with being the independent and representative voices of their communities — the most grass-roots form of local government. The boards are pivotal in shaping their communities and work to enhance and preserve the character of the city's many unique neighborhoods. "More than a thousand people applied to be a member of one of Manhattan's 12 community Boards, the most we've ever had," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "I'm excited that so many Manhattanites want to be involved, even though that made the job of selecting members tougher than it's ever been. I'm delighted that these four new members are joining CB 8.”
 “We are looking for our city's best and brightest with strong ties to the neighborhood to serve on our community boards. I am proud to nominate a neighborhood association founder, union organizer, parent and resident that will bring expertise in law, labor, public policy research, and finance that Community Board 8 needs to make decisions on land use and other complex issues before the board,” said Council Member Ben Kallos who previously served on Community Board 8. “Thank you to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for an open process that has encouraged hundreds to apply with an impressive group interview process as well as all the applicants and appointees for their service to the community.”

 

July 3, 2017

At Charter, we strive to reflect the vibrant diversity of the communities we serve through every facet of our business. That starts with over 11,000 highly trained, diverse employees right here in New York, who help to deliver superior products and services to our three million customers throughout the state. 

We’re committed to growing this workforce. Across our footprint, we are planning to hire 20,000 employees by 2020, including thousands of veterans. And so far this year, we’ve hired over 1,200 new employees in the state of New York. 

We’re proud to offer our millions of customers the products and services that are most relevant to them. Charter has significantly expanded access to African-American focused and owned programming, as well as to Latino targeted English language programming. Additionally, our Spectrum Mi Latino Plan provides over 75 Spanish-language networks, the most Spanish-language HD channels, and Spectrum NY1 Noticias which provides news 24/7 throughout New York City. Spectrum’s telephone service includes unlimited calling to the US, Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico across the entire footprint as well as to the Dominican Republic and Colombia for our customers in New York City. 

 

June 28, 2017

Councilmember Kallos said, "This is victory for thousands of residents from hundreds of buildings in and out of the neighborhood who have organized a grassroots application that would use height as an incentive to include affordable housing in any new building. Thank you to Community Board 6 for their support every step of the way and unanimously passing this rezoning. Now we look to the Mayor and City Planning to choose affordable housing over buildings for billionaires."

 

June 19, 2017

"After 40 years we are opening indoor tennis to the public this summer. For a $100 annual tennis pass from NYC Parks, you can play tennis on air-conditioned indoor courts all summer long that would normally cost as much as $225 an hour. Now it is up to the public to show such high demand for these courts that we have to expand the program," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "Thank you to Commissioner Mitchell Silver and NYC Parks for working with Eastside elected officials to open indoor tennis to the public this summer as we continue our work to expand parks space in the district."

 

 

June 18, 2017

Thank you to New York City Transit for your diligent evaluation of bus service routes, but we must express concern with regards to insufficient public notice and object to service cuts of up to 33% to four bus lines crucial to the Upper East Side, Upper West Side and Midtown.

Bus Service Route Recommendations:

  • M31 - Reject increase in PM Peak headway from 8 to 9 minutes (12.5%).
  • M57 - Reject increase in AM Peak headway from 10 to 12 minutes (20%) and Evening headway from 12 to 15 minutes (25%).
  • M66 - Reject increase in AM Peak headway from 4 to 4.5 minutes (12.5%) and PM Peak headway from 3.5 to 4 minutes (14%).
  • M72 - Reject increase in AM Peak headway from 9 to 10 minutes (11%), PM Peak headway from 8 to 9 minutes (12.5%), and Evening headways from 15 to 20 minutes (33%).

 

June 16, 2017

Notice to Residents of Lenox Hill

The Health Department is investigating a cluster of Legionnaires’ disease in a section of Lenox Hill. Seven people have been confirmed with Legionnaires’ disease in the last 11 days. The risk to most people is low, but if you have flu-like symptoms, please see your medical provider.

What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires’ disease (or Legionellosis) is a type of pneumonia. It is caused by bacteria (Legionella) that grow in warm water.

Is the disease contagious?
No. Legionnaires’ disease is not spread from person to person. People only get sick by breathing in water vapor containing the bacteria. People who are sick cannot make others sick.

Who is at risk?
Groups at high risk include people who are middle-aged or older—especially cigarette smokers—people with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems and people who take medicines that weaken their immune systems (immunosuppressive drugs).

What are the symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease?
Symptoms are like the flu and can include fever, chills, muscle aches and cough. Some people may also have headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion or diarrhea.

What should I do if I think I have Legionnaires’ disease?
If you have flu-like symptoms, seek medical attention right away, especially if you have a medical condition that affects your breathing, like emphysema, or if you are a smoker.

What is the treatment for Legionnaires’ disease?
The disease is treated with antibiotics. Most people get better with early treatment, although they may need to be hospitalized. Some people may get very sick or even die from complications of the disease. That’s why it is important to get medical help right away if you develop symptoms.

If you would like more information, please join us for a Community Meeting at:
Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
331 East 70th Street
Monday, June 19
6:30PM
RSVP

Or, visit nyc.gov/health or call 311

 

June 16, 2017

STATEMENT: Legionnaires’ Disease Cluster on Upper East Side

"Upper East Siders should be looking out for signs of Legionnaires: a cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, and headaches. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should quickly seek medical attention," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "In 2015, following the outbreak in the Bronx I co-sponsored legislation introduced by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, which was signed into Local Law 77 of 2015 to require registration, inspection, cleaning, disinfecting, testing, and annual certification. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the individual who passed away. We are working with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to identify the source as quickly as possible."

For more information:
Health Department Investigating Community Cluster of Legionnaires' Disease in Section of Lenox Hill in Manhattan at https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/about/press/pr2017/pr051-17.page

 

June 14, 2017

I am Council Member Ben Kallos, representing the Upper East Side, Midtown East, Roosevelt Island and El Barrio. That’s @BenKallos on Twitter and Instagram.

Good afternoon to the Rent Guidelines Board Chair Hon. Kathleen A. Roberts, Public Members Botein, Joza, Reiss and Schaub, Owner Members Serafy and Walsh, and Tenant Members Epstein and Garcia.

To New Yorkers here today, and especially tenants, thank you for attending this hearing. I am proud to stand with you today.

This year, I am calling on the Rent Guidelines Board to vote for a rent rollback.

Last year, the Board voted for a second-straight historic rent freeze for one-year leases, continuing to correct for the disproportionately high increases of previous years.

Year after year, as rent goes up, tenants have shouldered an undue burden. Meanwhile, income cannot keep pace, and only crept up by 2.3% between 2005 and 2013 in real terms. The approved rent increases each year were largely based upon the landlord’s operating costs, measured by the price index of operating cost (PIOC). This practice not only failed to consider tenants, but was also proven to be inaccurate: based upon data from the Department of Finance (DOF), the PIOC has overstated landlord costs by 11% since 2005. This miscalculation led to unfairly high rent increases in past years, which must be corrected with a rent rollback.

 

June 7, 2017

In response to a doubling in the number of hate crimes in New York City since last year, with anti-transgender incidents cited as a major cause according to the NYPD, City Council Members Ben Kallos and Education Chair Danny Dromm have introduced a pair of bills meant to expand Gender-Sexuality Alliance student clubs in the city’s Public Schools. The legislation was authored by East Side Middle School students who are representatives to the Manhattan Leadership Council.

 

June 7, 2017

Initiative results can help to diversify the largest municipal fleet in the country and its $200 million plus annual investment NEW YORK––The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) today announced a new procurement initiative to help expand vendor participation in the City Fleet’s trucking and specialized equipment procurements. As part of the Agency’s commitment to increase greater market participation in today’s industry, DCAS, through a Request for Information, will expand its outreach to the industry and provide opportunities for qualified, yet lesser known businesses, including minority and women-owned business enterprises.

 

June 6, 2017

"The community has won a major victory with the certification of our rezoning proposal to stop the march of super-scrapers and build more affordable housing in residential neighborhoods. While I am disappointed with how long it took to certify, it is better late than never," said Council Member Ben Kallos.

He added, "Thank you to residents of 45 buildings and over 2,000 individual supporters from the neighborhood who have brought the first of its kind grassroots community rezoning to be certified that I am proud to support. Now the rezoning can go to Community Board 6 for a quick approval since they had sought this rezoning to begin with. Then it’s back to City Planning for what we hope will be a vote in favor of protecting residential neighborhoods from super-scrapers, protecting seniors like Herndon Werth and Charles Fernandez living in rent stabilized housing from displacement for billionaires and to actually building affordable housing in the East 50s.”

 

May 26, 2017

Kallos Promises New Large Cans For Every Corner to Clean Up the Upper East Side

New York, NY – Litter strewn sidewalks on the Upper East Side are about to get cleaner following an investment of $154,780 by Council Member Ben Kallos in 284 new large trash cans personally delivered by Sanitation Department Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. The new large trash cans are housed in a green metal case with a dome top and a small opening that prevents trash from spilling and has been reported to deter rodents.

“I am here to clean up the Upper East Side with larger trash cans on every corner that can prevent overflow and litter that spills onto the streets,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “I promise a new large trash can on every corner that needs one to keep our streets clean. I encourage any resident whose corner needs a new trash can or even a second large trash can to reach out so we can clean up our neighborhood together.” 

This massive rollout followed an initial pilot that brought 38 large trash cans to hot spots with 27 large trash cans just for the East 86th Street commercial corridor. Council Member Kallos sought out to cover Second Avenue from 96th to 54th street to coincide with the opening of the Second Avenue Subway in 2017. Following the 2016 pilot resident reported reduced litter and rodents with requests for more cans from the East Sixties Neighborhood Association (ESNA), the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association (E72NA), and the East 86th Street Association (E86NA). In response Council Member Kallos expanded from his original plan of covering Second Avenue to cover every corner that had a wire mesh trash can, providing 284 new large cans that cover 104 intersections in his district.