New York, NY – Tenants and advocates with the Stand for Tenant Safety (STS) Coalition will testify at a hearing today beginning at 10 AM for five of the twelve bills in the STS legislative package which aims to reform the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB). The STS Coalition is a citywide alliance of grassroots tenant organizations and legal service groups collaborating with the Progressive Caucus and the eleven City Council prime sponsors to push for greater protection for tenants, especially in regards to the use of construction as harassment by landlords.
The five bills that will be heard at the Committee on Housing and Buildings hearing encompass:
· Construction Task Force (Intro 0926): This bill would create a task force on construction work in occupied multiple dwellings.
· Building Code Violations (Intro 0931): This bill would provide that building code violations adjudicated before Environmental Control Board would constitute tax liens on the property.
· Tenant Protection Plans (Intro 0936): This bill amends information required in tenant protection plans (TPP) and prescribes measures to ensure compliance with the TPP.
· Permit Oversight (Intro 0938): This bill requires increased oversight of construction contractors who have engaged in work without a required permit.
· Construction Bill of Rights (Intro 0960): This bill creates a safe construction bill of rights.
These bills together give tenants better protection from dangerous construction and help DOB to enforce already existing laws. Without these bills, unscrupulous landlords can use loopholes in the city’s enforcement to create hazardous construction conditions to push tenants out of their homes.
"Construction as harassment continues to be a huge problem in our communities. We are saying that enough is enough and calling on the administration to implement reforms to the Department of Buildings that will help to end this practice," said Council Member Antonio Reynoso, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.
"The Stand for Tenant Safety legislative package sets out to correct the behavior of the worst landlords, who will face the threat of foreclosure if they fail to fix long-ignored repairs," said Council Member Ben Kallos, Vice Chair for Policy of the Progressive Caucus. "For too long some landlords and building owners have neither fixed reoccurring problems on their properties nor paid the fines that go along with those violations, putting tenants in unsafe conditions sometimes for years on end."
"Tenant harassment, which often comes in the form of illegal or unscrupulous construction work, robs New Yorkers of their homes and exacerbates the city’s affordable housing crisis. This month, the City Council is reviewing several critical bills – collectively called Stand for Tenant Safety – designed to ensure that the Department of Buildings will prevent abusive construction work and serve New York City tenants, not just owners and contractors. The Stand for Tenant Safety bill package will ultimately make it easier to hold abusive landlords accountable and help tenants protect their homes,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Vice-Chair for Budget Advocacy of the Progressive Caucus.
“As the lead sponsors of another part of this vital DOB reform package, we are pleased that these five bills are moving forward,” said Council Members Margaret S. Chin and Carlos Menchaca, members of the Progressive Caucus, who jointly introduced Intro 918, a bill to fix a flawed inspection system favoring landlords at the expense of tenants. “Unfortunately, for far too many New Yorkers, the problem of tenant harassment and displacement by landlords is only getting worse. We are proud to join a growing number of Council colleagues, advocates and tenants to demand action to protect the quality of life of residents and to keep families in their homes.”
Background: In partnership with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Council Member Ben Kallos worked to bring the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for application to the Innovation Center’s Accountable Health Communities (AHC) Model to public health institutions throughout New York City. STATEMENT:
Even the best medical treatment offered here in New York City can’t succeed when patients can’t take care of themselves. For far too long, we’ve only focused on treating medical conditions, without treating the underlying causes in the community that lead to them. Automatic Benefits legislation would require anyone applying or who qualifies for one human service benefits from the government to be screened for and provided with all other applicable benefits so that New Yorkers get not some but all of the help they need.
Thank you to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovations for investing in, encouraging, and studying what happens when you connect patients with community service providers to address their health-related social needs.
I am proud to represent New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) which was one of 32 organizations selected nationwide for Assistance and Alignment Tracks of the Accountable Health Communities Model. New York Presbyterian Hospital is on the Alignment Track to encourage partner alignment to ensure that community services are available and responsive to the needs of beneficiaries.
New York, NY - Fidel F. Del Valle, Commissioner and Chief Administrative Law Judge of the City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) and Council Member Ben Kallos kicked off OATH’s CourtESy (Court’s Education for Seniors) Program today at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, on the Upper East Side. Through the new CourtESy program, OATH aims to bring information about the hearing process directly to our City’s senior citizens.
The forum explained what to do when a resident or property owner receives a summons and highlighted OATH’s Remote Hearing Methods, which give residents who received summonses the ability to fight the tickets at their convenience and without having to travel to attend the OATH hearing in person. “As the City’s central independent administrative law court, OATH’s top priority is to make it as easy as possible for those who have been issued summonses from City enforcement agencies to have their day in court,” said OATH Commissioner and Chief Administrative Law Judge, Fidel F. Del Valle. “OATH recognizes that there are many reason why it may be difficult to attend a hearing in person so we have worked diligently to make it possible for recipients of the most commonly issued summonses to fight those summonses remotely by using OATH’s Hearings Online, Hearings by Mail, Hearings by Phone or Video (webcam) Hearings. Through our CourtESy program, OATH is working to make sure that the City’s senior residents know about these convenient hearing methods and how to utilize them effectively.”
"The rent freezes have begun to correct decades of rent increases given to landlords even when there was no inflation year after year. New York's 1 million rent-stabilized tenants deserve the rent freezes after years of rent increases that outpaced the consumer price index," said Councilmember Ben Kallos.
NEW YORK, March 30, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following last week's construction accident that left a hoist dangerously dangling hundreds of feet in the air above thousands of passersby, today construction workers, elected officials, and community activists gathered at 200 E59th Street to call attention to this unsafe Gilbane job site and their subcontractor, Tradeoff, firing of a worker who requested a safety harness on the job.
Without stringent safety and training standards for construction workers in New York City, accidents of this kind and retaliatory firings will continue to happen and worker's lives will remain at risk. Activists today are urging the New York City Council to pass lifesaving legislation, Intro 1447, that would set safety and training standards for all construction workers in New York City.
Thank you for reaching out with your concerns about a mentally ill woman on the Upper East Side. We share your compassion for her well-being and concern for the safety of those around her, and we want to advise you of our best options here.
As many of you have noted in your comments, she is suffering from a mental illness, and as a City and a community, we must do everything we can to get her the help that she needs. As you likely know, mental illness in itself is not a crime, but physical assault of any kind, including spitting on someone, is -- and it will not be tolerated.
New York, NY – The cost of trash in New York City is soaring from $63.39 a ton in 2007 to $129.81 a ton in 2016. . Overall city spending on
waste export is increasing from an average of $300 million from 2010 to 2014 to $360 million this year to $420 million in 2021. Driving the increased spending is the long-term contracts for four Marine Transfer Stations three of which are slated to begin operations in 2018 and 2019. Both are according to a new report by the New York City Independent Budget Office.
“New York City is throwing money in the trash by continuing to build marine transfer stations. The City should save hundreds of millions of dollars a year by continuing to send all residential waste from Manhattan directly to New Jersey by truck instead of by barge through Staten Island,” said Council Member Ben Kallos.
New York, NY – Supportive housing for seventeen women and children is being welcomed on the Upper East Side at 316 East 91st Street by every local elected official, Community Board 8, faith and non-profit leaders, as well as principals, parents, and children who attend schools across the street from the proposed site.
Win, led by former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, will lease 17 two-bedroom apartments to be built by RiverOak and Azimuth Development in a seven-story building at 316 East 91st Street. The site will also contain a Sunshine Early Learning Center for children and housing and support for homeless women and their children.
22,973 children and 17,548 parents make up more than two-thirds of New York City’s homeless population which has reached crisis levels. In response Council Members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick, Senator Liz Krueger and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer launched the Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services (ETHOS) to connect city agencies with non-profits and faith-based institutions providing direct services to the homeless and to build new supportive housing on the Upper East Side.
“You can’t solve the homeless crisis without providing the transitional services and supports necessary to keep people leaving shelter, out of shelter. Moms and their kids still need our help once they walk out of the shelter doors and permanent supportive housing provides the kind of wraparound services that will help them gain greater skills, more independence, and keep them from sliding back from their gains,” said Christine Quinn, President and CEO of Win. “The support and work of city officials like Councilman Ben Kallos should be an example to everyone. Homelessness isn’t someone else’s problem, it’s all of ours —and we need all hands on deck to help solve it."
“Our city’s homeless women and children need supportive housing that can help them succeed, and that’s what they are getting from Win. New York City needs more supportive housing in every neighborhood to get more than forty thousand parents and children out of shelters and into permanent housing,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Co-Founder of the Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services (ETHOS). “‘Give me your tired, your poor … Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,’ you are welcomed here on the Upper East Side where we will feed you, clothe you, and build you supportive housing. Thank you to Win for bringing more supportive housing to the Upper East Side, Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services members for their leadership, fellow elected officials, Community Board 8 Manhattan, and to our principals, parents who are teaching us how important it is to welcome and support homeless individuals.”
National Women’s History Museum in Washington, D.C. Called for by
New York City Council Resolution
Resolution in Support of American Museum of Women’s History Congressional Commission recommendation for a new Smithsonian Museum for American Women’s History on the National Mall
New York, NY – A National Women’s History Museum is being called for by a New York City Council Resolution introduced as we commemorate Women’s History month. The resolution introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, along with Council Members Karen Koslowitz, Jimmy Van Bramer, Laurie Cumbo and Elizabeth Crowley calls on the Federal Government to create a National Women’s History Museum in Washington D.C.
In July 2014, Council Member Kallos and Cumbo introduced Resolution 354, which was adopted on September 10, 2014, calling on the United States Senate to pass and the President to sign H.R. 3979 of 2014 sponsored by Congress Members Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), which was signed by President Obama on December 19, 2014, becoming Public Law 113-291 and established the American Museum of Women’s History Congressional Commission. On November 16, 2016, the Commission presented a report to the President and Congress calling for the creation by the Smithsonian of an American Museum of Women’s History on the national mall.
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE |
March 16, 2017
New York City Public Advocate Letitia James
Affordable High-Speed Internet for New York City’s Low-Income Families and Seniors Announced by Charter Communications, NYC Public Advocate Letitia James and NYC Council Member Ben Kallos
Spectrum Internet Assist to Help Bridge Digital Divide with $14.99 per month
30 Mbps Broadband for Low-Income Families and Seniors
NEW YORK CITY – March 16, 2017 – Charter Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: CHTR) today was joined by New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, and New York City Council Member Ben Kallos to announce the introduction of a new low-cost, high-speed broadband product, Spectrum Internet Assist, in its service areas in New York City.
The announcement was made at the Stanley Isaacs Community Center at the New York City Housing Authority’s Stanley Isaacs and Holmes Towers on East 93rd St. in Manhattan, where eligible families and seniors learned about Spectrum Internet Assist.
Priced at $14.99 per month, Spectrum Internet Assist offers eligible customers speeds up to 30/4 Mbps, which meets and even exceeds the Federal Communications Commission’s definition of “high-speed.” Spectrum Internet Assist includes standard features like email boxes, internet security software and a modem at no additional charge.
Spectrum Internet Assist is now available throughout Charter’s legacy service area, and will continue to be rolled out market-by-market, with a goal of covering the remaining Charter footprint by mid-2017.
CITY HALL - Today, Council Members Rafael Salamanca, Jr., James Vacca, Ben Kallos, Corey Johnson and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. announced the introduction of legislation drafted in response to the Hunts Point tragedy that occurred late last year.
On December 7, 2016 two girls under the age of two were killed when a valve blew off a radiator in their Bronx apartment and filled their bedroom with scalding steam. The apartment was identified as a cluster site under the duress of the New York City Department of Homeless Services.
At the time, Council Member Salamanca and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. announced that they would be introducing legislation to rectify the problems surrounding the tragedy. Council Members Vacca, Kallos and Johnson had previously been crafting legislation pertinent to these issues and are joining in sponsoring the following:
Intro 1489 (Kallos & Salamanca) - This legislation requires owners to install and maintain radiator covers.
Ryan Monell at 646-584-0463 or
rmonellcouncil [dot] nyc [dot] gov
New York, NY— The New York City Council Progressive Caucus stands with the family of Ramarley Graham to once again demand transparency, accountability, and justice from the NYPD. Five years have passed since Ramarley Graham was killed, and yet his family has still not gotten the answers and justice they deserve. Officer Richard Haste has not been disciplined or terminated from employment, internal trials have not taken place for Sergeant Scott Morris or Officer John McLoughlin, and there has been no transparency related to the scope of the overall investigation. We call on the NYPD to enact disciplinary measures against Officer Haste and immediately schedule the disciplinary trials of Sergeant Morris and Officer McLoughlin. Refusing to do so sends a message that misconduct will be tolerated and is a violation of public trust and safety.
"No family should be made to wait five years for justice," said Council Member Ben Kallos, Vice Chair for Policy of the Progressive Caucus. "Ramarley's Graham's death was avoidable and his family deserves answers now. I stand with Ramarley's family in demanding more transparency around the actions that led to his death."
New York, NY – Over 538 privately owned public spaces (POPS) attached to 329 buildings face new legislation which imposes steep fines for bad landlords who violate the terms of their agreements with the City. In exchange for turning part of the building lot into an open or green space for public use, developers are typically allowed to build taller than the zoning code allows. The building owner is responsible for maintaining the space. Despite this legal requirement, many building owners have illegally closed off these spaces to the public or sought to use them for another purpose. The legislation is authored by Council Member Ben Kallos with sponsorship by Council Member Dan Garodnick, who together represent the POPS-dense Upper East Side, as well as Council Member David Greenfield, Chair of the City Council Committee on Land Use.
Geographic Diversity Would Be Added as Measure in NYC Public Schools
New York, NY – The number of children from each neighborhood who apply to attend a particular school, the number of seats available at each school, how many offers of admission were made, and total enrollment in all public schools would be counted under a new bill from Council Member Ben Kallos. The legislation will be heard in a February 28, 2017 hearing of the Committee on Education titled “School Planning and Siting for New Capacity.”
NEW YORK -- Today, Public Advocate Letitia James and Council Member Ben Kallos released the following joint statement in response to the House of Representatives voting yes on resolutions H.J. Res 66 and H.J Res 67 to block state- and municipal-based retirement savings plans.
“Forcing America’s elders to live out their golden years in poverty does not make America great again. States and municipalities pushed to create retirement systems precisely because the Federal government has failed our seniors. Doubling down on this failure and preventing cities like New York from helping employees save for their future is despicable, even by this Congress’ abysmal standards.
“After research and policy analysis, consultation with experts, and dialogue with retirees and future retirees, we laid out a common sense plan that helps New Yorkers save without burdening taxpayers. Congress should either help our efforts to advance retirement security or get out of the way so local governments can help seniors live with dignity.”
PA James, CM Kallos Condemn House Move to Block Municipal-Based Retirement Savings
Resolutions would Repeal DOL Rules; Leave Millions without Retirement Savings Plans
NEW YORK -- Today, Public Advocate Letitia James and Council Member Ben Kallos released the following joint statement in response to House resolutions H.J. Res 66 and H.J Res 67 to block state- and municipal-based retirement savings plans.
“Our government was created to protect and advance hardworking Americans, not champion policies that hinder our ability to succeed. The new resolutions introduced in the House to prevent cities and states from creating retirement savings plans for individuals are ill-conceived and seem to favor the financial services industry over everyday Americans. Millions of Americans do not have access to these critical tools for their future and, in New York City, more than half of our workers are projected to be in or near poverty when they retire, as a result. By blocking municipalities from creating this safety net, our federal government is hurting working Americans and working New Yorkers. Congress should be supporting these efforts, not tearing them down.”
Public Advocate James and Council Member Ben Kallos have been leaders in creating a New York City-wide retirement savings plan. In February 2015, they co-sponsored legislation to study the creation of a retirement security plan for New York City private sector workers. In June 2015, Public Advocate James released a report documenting the precarious state of retirement savings for New Yorkers. In February 2016, Public Advocate James and Council Member Kallos joined Mayor Bill de Blasio to announce a plan for New York to become the first city in the country to create a retirement savings program for private sector employees.
"The exploitation of vulnerable New Yorkers at transitional homes is an issue we must solve quickly and decisively,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Vice Chair for Policy of the Progressive Caucus. "By requiring reporting from the agencies tasked, New Yorkers will all have a better idea of how serious this issue is, who the bad actors are and what progress is being made. This package of bills forces more transparency that will better our chances at finally getting finding a solution to this issue."
January 27, 2017
Thank you for taking the time to reach out to me with your position on the Queensboro Oval. We have been working with the community on this issue for years and hope we can work with you so that even more people can enjoy the Queensboro Oval as a City park.
With the expiration of Sutton East’s lease, the City and community are considering various options for the land, including operating public tennis courts where season passes are $200 and day passes cost $15. I hope that you will join the conversation to help us determine how to effectively open this City park to more New Yorkers.
Community Board 8 has held numerous public meetings to discuss the future of the Queensboro Oval with members of the community dating back to January 7, 2010, with more than ten meetings since I was elected from December 4, 2014 through January 12, 2017. These meetings were publicly noticed through the Community Board website and email list, publicly posted with paper signs on lamp posts, featured in a full length cable television show, covered by the press and prominently featured in my own emails and letters to residents.
At these meetings, members of the public have continually expressed concern that, while the Upper East Side has among the lowest amount of public park space in the City, Sutton East Tennis sits on City park land, but is not accessible to most community members with rates as high as $225 an hour that most cannot afford. Sutton East Tennis Club was notified and was represented at many of the meetings, though no one has spoken in favor of continued privatization of this public space. Dating back to 2008, Community Board 8 has objected to the privatization of public land at the Queensboro Oval, and in the last 12 months alone, the Parks Committee and Full Board have passed four resolutions calling for the City to make the Queensboro Oval a year-round public park, which could include tennis courts accessible to more New Yorkers.
Some of the concerns raised were:
- The Queensboro Oval sits on 1.25 acres of public parkland, not private land.
- Sutton East Tennis has high fees with a minimum of $80 to a maximum of $225 an hour.
- Sutton East Tennis is renting 1.25 acres for only $2 million a year, very far below market rate.
- Nine months out of the year the land is completely closed off to the public without any benefit to the community.
- Each year when the tennis bubble is removed for just two and half months of summer, the land is left in almost unusable condition.
Community Board 8, with input from members of the public, has been transparent and unequivocal in its decision-making process regarding the Queensboro Oval. We have also received over one hundred petition signatures in support of opening the Queensboro Oval to the public.
Please note that there are 12 HarTru tennis courts available just a 5 minute Tram ride away from 59th Street and Second Avenue available at the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club where rates are a fraction of those at Sutton East Tennis and where we have partnered with the New York Junior Tennis League to provide free tennis classes to children ages 5 to 18 every Saturday and Sunday morning from 6am to 8am through the winter and free tennis camp through the summer.
The Riverside Clay Tennis Association, a non-profit that currently maintains 10 red clay courts in Riverside Park, has also presented at Community Board 8, and is interested in providing the same services to these courts making them public tennis courts operated by the New York Parks Department. Season tennis passes would be $200 for adults, $20 for seniors over 62 and $10 for children under 16, and day passes for $15.
How much do you currently pay per season at Sutton East Tennis? Would you be interested in working with a non-profit like Riverside Clay Tennis Association in order to maintain this amenity as a New York City Park Department public tennis court where you could pay for a season what you currently pay per hour?
Please let Community Board 8 and my office know, so that we can include your voice in how we use this park to benefit the public.
New York, NY – Today, the City Council voted to approve a potential franchise agreement between the City of New York and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC). After more than 20 years of operating without an agreement, a proposed franchise has been approved for two 25-year terms, granting the City the authority to negotiate with RIOC to continue operating the unique and iconic aerial tramway from Tramway Plaza on Second Avenue between 60th and 59th Streets over the East River to Roosevelt Island.
“The Roosevelt Island Tram is here to stay. After 20 years of needless bureaucracy, we’ve protected the tram through 2068, the end of RIOC’s 99-year land lease,” said Council Member Ben Kallos who represents Roosevelt Island. “Thank you to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and RIOC President Susan Rosenthal for their partnership in protecting the tram.”
New York, NY – Government invests billions every year in subsidies for private construction in New York City without training or transparency for the projects. The reintroduction of the Safe Jobs Act (Intro.1432) would require transparency around Federal, State or City government assistance received by developers and contractors whose construction workers would be required to receive training and graduate from State Department of Labor approved programs.
“No one should die from a construction accident that could have been prevented with proper education, apprenticeship, and protections for a worker's right to say no to a dangerous situation,” said Council Member Ben Kallos a union-side labor lawyer. “Any project that receives taxpayer dollars must pay a living wage, invest in workers with training and apprenticeship, and provide protection for worker's rights.”
Construction-related fatalities remain a serious problem in New York City almost doubling in Fiscal Year 2015 to 10 from an average of 5.5 the previous four years. Injuries have also increased by more than 50% to 324 injured workers in 2015 according to the Department of Buildings. Since 2012, 72% of the injuries at construction sites occurred at locations where employers did not participate in state-approved training or apprenticeship programs that this bill would require.
Singer was supportive of the legislation’s application of the threat of perjury to BSA applications, but questioned how such a bill would be enforced. Regarding the additional requirements from applicants, Singer stated that one size does not fit all, and that the BSA already had a set of required information on its website. Singer was open to working with the Council to change some of those requirements outside of legislation.
The BSA did not support the portion of the bill to post all applications online and all testimony received for every application. Singer stated that for security reasons such information should not be publicly disclosed. Council Member Ben Kallos questioned the BSA’s objection to publicly disclosing all applications. “I think the Open Data Law already requires you to put this online. . . . If I can’t make the tenant black list illegal. If a landlord taking a tenant to court is public information. If divorce proceedings are public information. If criminal proceedings, even when the person is acquitted, are public information, I think that a [BSA] application is public information.” Singer responded, saying, “It is public information subject FOIL requests, but we don’t believe it should be posted on our website.”
The legislation would also require City Planning to have a representative at every BSA hearing and to post all testimony. City Planning opposed the requirement. Alison McCabe, Assistant Counsel at the Department of City Planning, testified that while her agency keeps tabs on the BSA, it has only intervenes when it was “warranted.” City Planning relies heavily on individual borough offices for determining when City Planning testimony was warranted. “The fact that DCP is involved is news to me,” retorted Kallos.
NEW YORK, NY : Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee, Council Member Ben Kallos, Chair of the Government Operations Committee, and Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Immigration Committee released the following joint statement after a construction worker fell to his death after falling down an elevator shaft on the Upper East Side Friday morning.
New York, NY – New York City’s landmark small-dollar matching campaign finance system may soon be protected from an onslaught of dark money and special interests in City elections. Today the Committee on Governmental Operations chaired by Council Member Ben Kallos passed a package of legislation that expands the "doing business" definitions to include owners of companies that own companies and no longer matching funds they bundle as well as providing early determinations and payments of public funds". This package was first introduced in late 2015 by Governmental Operations Committee Chair Ben Kallos along with Council Members Jumaane Williams, Andy King, and Fernando Cabrera. This committee vote sends the legislation to the full council where it is expected to pass.