Updates

Press Coverage
Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

It’s really hard to get parents to come to community-board meetings,” he said in a phone interview. “Along with that comes a lack of diversity in the people I see involved in government and politics.”

There isn’t yet a cost estimate for the legislation, Mr. Kallos said. The measure would require the city to provide child care upon request through the Administration for Children’s Services, the child-welfare agency.

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Press Release
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

New York, NY – Parents interested in having a say in local government could have free child care provided by the city under proposed legislation by Council Member Ben Kallos. The legislation was announced today in honor of the United Nations Women's founding of HeForShe and launch of IMPACT 10x10x10 Parity. It was inspired by a move to provide childcare at conferences in academia, civic technology, and by NYC Community Education Council 2. Countless parents have found childcare to be a challenge to their professional careers, not to mention civic engagement.
 
“It actually costs parents money to be civically engaged,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, who grew up with a single mother and now offers free child care at his annual events. “How can democracy work when we exclude parents from representing the interests of themselves and their children because they may not have access to child care? If we want to build an inclusive democracy here in New York City it means offering free child care when we want to hear from any New Yorker who has children.”
 
 

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Press Coverage
The Riverdale Press
Friday, September 15, 2017

Councilman Ben Kallos doesn’t represent the Bronx, but he bets he knows what the views are like.

“We are in the unfortunate situation where if I am standing under one scaffolding in the city, I can look around and see another set of scaffolding,” said Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side and Midtown. “There’s scaffolding everywhere — there is literally hundreds of miles of it.”

Yet, sidewalk sheds are nearly impossible to enforce, Kallos said, because the law only requires scaffolding to be put up and for landlords to have a permit for it. There’s nothing in the law that dictates when such scaffolding needs to come down.

“There is scaffolding in this city that is almost old enough to vote,” he said. “It is a problem all over the city.”

The existing law, according to Councilman Andrew Cohen, creates an environment like the one that allowed sidewalk sheds to stay in front of the historic Tracey Towers at 20 and 40 W. Mosholu Parkway S., for four years.

“That recently came down, and that was transformative,” Cohen said. “It was unsightly and, you know, disruptive. There was a celebratory mood at Tracey Towers when the scaffolding came down, that’s for sure.”

Yet, there could be hope for people sick of living with sidewalk sheds. Last year, Kallos introduced a bill to city council placing time limits on how long scaffolding can be left in front of buildings. 

The bill proposes a hard, six-month deadline for sidewalk sheds, requiring workers be present six days a week, and that work not stop for more than seven days at a time while such scaffolding is in place.

If a landlord can’t afford — or worst yet, doesn’t want to do — the work, Kallos said the city would step in and bill the landlord later.

“Deadlines are good things — it’s how things get done,” Kallos said. “It’s how every other part of the private sector works.”

Yet, it’s not how things get done in city council. Debate hasn’t opened on the bill yet because he needs 30 council members to sign on. His tally so far? Just two — Ydanis Rodriguez, whose district dips into Marble Hill, and Karen Koslowitz in Forest Hills.

One of the bill’s biggest enemies, Kallos said, could very well be the real estate lobby — groups like the Real Estate Board of New York, and the Rent Stabilization Association. In fact, when the bill was first proposed, Real Estate Board senior vice president Carl Hum called it “ill-conceived.” RSA representatives blasted the bill because it doesn’t account for the financial burden landlords would have to shoulder to pay for the work in these shorter spurts of time.

Cohen has a different idea, however. He thinks Kallos’ bill is too stringent, and although he is open to changing the way sidewalk sheds are regulated, he prefers a system with fees instead of hard deadlines.

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Press Release
Friday, September 15, 2017

“Tech now has a new home in New York City on Roosevelt Island at Cornell Tech. We are growing jobs and educating the next leaders of the tech economy right here on Roosevelt Island so the next big thing in tech will be 'Made in New York,” said City Council Member Ben Kallos, a tech entrepreneur. “Welcome to Cornell Tech, Dean Dan Huttenlocher and thank you to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the vision, Mayor de Blasio and RIOC President Susan Rosenthal for making it happen, and the Roosevelt Island community for being a part of this every step of the way. I look forward to working with Cornell Tech on bringing millions in investment to growing companies on Roosevelt Island and in New York City.”

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Press Coverage
WNYC: New York Public Radio
Friday, September 8, 2017

New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced this week that the city's 1.1 million public school students will receive free lunch. This program comes as the city changed the way it reports its data to the Washington, making it eligible for the lunch expansion at no additional cost to taxpayers.

While individual families are set to save roughly $300 a year on school lunches, the issue touches on much more than cost. Incidents of "food shaming" have been reported at schools around the country, as students are often targeted on the lunch line for their family's inability to pay off their meal debt.

Could this new program serve as a model to districts around the country? New York City Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents New Yorkers in the Upper West Side and Roosevelt Island, joins The Takeaway to discuss the importance of ensuring that every student receives lunch at school.

This segment is hosted by Todd Zwillich.

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Press Release
Thursday, September 7, 2017

Upper East Side, NY – 40 more 4-year-olds will have free pre-kindergarten seats on the Upper East Side starting with today’s first day of school. Council Member Ben Kallos joined Principal Doreen Esposito to cut the ribbon on the 40 new pre-kindergarten seats at P.S. 290, The Manhattan New School on 82nd Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. 

 

Watch the Ribbon Cutting.

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Press Coverage
New York Times
Thursday, September 7, 2017

Breakfast had already been free systemwide, school officials said, and the city’s stand-alone middle schools had a universal free-lunch pilot in place since 2014 that fed an additional 10,000 children who would not necessarily have qualified for free or discounted lunches, officials said.

Among the parade of speakers at Wednesday’s announcement was City Councilman Ben Kallos, who recounted his own experience with the stigma of subsidized school meals.

He grew up on the Upper East Side and, like many of his neighbors, attended Bronx High School of Science. But his mother’s income in his single-parent household was low enough that he qualified for reduced-price lunches — a fact he tried to hide from his peers by not eating.

“I had to choose between friends and food,” Mr. Kallos said. “I hope no child makes the same poor choices I did.”

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Press Coverage
Food and Wine
Friday, September 8, 2017

The New York City Council has been a vocal supporter of enacting the free lunch program; many members cited stories of students who would rather skip lunch than admit to their fellow students that they couldn’t afford to buy it, including Councilman Ben Kallos, who recounted his past struggles as a student at Bronx High School of Science.

“I had to choose between friends and food,” he said. “I hope no child makes the same poor choices I did.”

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Press Release
Wednesday, September 6, 2017

NEW YORK — Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Public Advocate Letitia James today announced that lunch is now free for every student at every public school across New York City. Free School Lunch for All will provide over 200,000 more students with free lunch starting this school year. Last school year, 75% of students were eligible for free lunch and starting this school year, 100% of families will be eligible to receive free lunch.

New York City has sought all forms of funding for meal reimbursement and is now eligible to receive the highest reimbursement from the federal government through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). This federal program allows school districts to provide meals free of charge to all enrolled students. The Free School Lunch for All initiative will benefit all families regardless of where they live or attend school.

“There is now such thing as a free lunch in New York City public schools,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “When I was a child attending City public schools, I often went without food, because going hungry was better than getting picked on for receiving free or reduced school lunch. I've been fighting alongside Public Advocate Letitia James and Education Chair Danny Dromm at hearing after hearing for four years so that no child has to make the same unfortunate choice I did years ago, to go hungry. Our families should be able to trust that when they send their kids to public school, they won't come home hungry. Thank you to Speaker Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate James, Education Chair Dromm, Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland and Community Food Advocates Executive Director Liz Accles for their advocacy, and Mayor De Blasio and Chancellor Fariña for making universal school lunch a reality.”

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Press Coverage
United Press International UPI
Thursday, September 7, 2017

However, many schools still enact an array of measures to get students to pay for their lunch. In Alabama last year, a third-grader who couldn't pay a lunch bill was given a stamp on his arm that said, "I need lunch money," reported AL.com.

New York City councilman Ben Kallos said he remembers the stigma he felt as a child when he couldn't afford lunch.

"I had to choose between friends and food," Kallos said. "I hope no child makes the same poor choices I did."

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Press Release
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

“We are finally using our waterways to improve commutes for thousands of Roosevelt Islanders who will be able to take the new ferry. Roosevelt Islanders can travel by air (by tram), land (by car, bus, and train) and now water (by ferry), all offering improved commutes. After advocating alongside the community since before I got elected and continuing that fight for ferry service every day since then, I am proud to be a part of a City government that finally made it a reality,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Economic Development Corporation President James Patchett for reclaiming our waterways and bringing ferry service citywide.”

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Newsletter

Happy Labor Day, welcome back to school and, for those who celebrate, Happy Jewish New Year.

New York City is the first city in the country to guarantee legal representation to tenants facing eviction with a new “Right to Counsel.” We also enacted laws I authored to protect tenant safety from landlords who fail to make repairs or never finish.

Commutes are getting better. We launched a ferry service on Roosevelt Island, after years of advocacy, travel is now available by air (by tram), land (by car, bus, and train) and now water (by ferry), all offering improved commutes. Ferry service will be coming to the Upper East Side next year. You may have noticed new bus countdown clocks throughout the neighborhood. I also proposed solutions for the MTA to improve subway service and hope you will join our fight to cuts to crosstown bus service.

I hope you will join us for our annual Town Hall with city agencies and free reusable bags, as well as our Emergency Preparedness Event with Free Go Bags.

Sincerely,


Ben Kallos

P.S. Brain Storm with Ben is canceled in September so it does not conflict with the Primary Election.
First Friday is canceled in October for Religious Observance of Sukkot.

SPECIAL EVENTS

September 19, 6PM
Annual Town Hall

September 27, 6PM
Emergency Preparedness
with FREE Go Bags

DISTRICT OFFICE EVETS

September 1, 8AM-10AM
First Friday

September 7, 14, 21, 28,
3:30PM - 6:30PM
Fresh Food Box

Septmber 12, 20, 27, 11AM - 2PM
Mobile Hours

September 4, 5, 11, 18, 20, 25,
3PM - 6PM
Free Legal Clinics

September 28, 6:30PM
CitiBike Street Skills Class

 

  1. Best City Council Members
  2. Annual Town Hall
  3. Annual Emergency Prepardness

TRANSPORTATION

  1. Launching the Roosevelt Island Ferry Service
  2. Improving Your Commute
  3. New Bus Countdown Clocks

FIGHTING FOR TENANTS

  1. Tenant Safety Law
  2. Right to Counsel Signed into Law

INVESTING IN OUR ECONOMY

  1. Cornell Tech Roosevelt Island Community Day
  2. 7 Open Source Myths Debunked Gov Loop
  3. Bridging the Digital Divide Personal Democracy Forum 2017
  4. Legislation to Respond to Noise
  5. Chasing News on Scaffolding
  6. National Night Out Against Crime
  7. Protecting the East 91st Street Plaza
  8. Protecting and Strengthening the Affordable Care Act with Congress Member Maloney

RESOURCES

  1. Here to Help
  2. Free Legal Clinics
  3. Mobile Office Hours
  4. Resource Guide
  5. Ben in Your Building

EVENTS

  1. City Council Events
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Press Release
Thursday, August 24, 2017

It is time to stop throwing good money after bad and the city over a billion dollars for garbage dumps that appear to be more symbolic than functional.

 

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Press Release
Wednesday, 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.

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Press Coverage
City and State
Sunday, August 13, 2017

ben kallos

NO. 4: BEN KALLOS

Representing Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island, Kallos has positioned himself as a reformer. As chairman of the Committee on Government Operations, he has proposed numerous good government measures and pushed for greater transparency.

Attendance: 98.1% (No. 5)
Bills introduced: 17 (No. 5)
Bills enacted: 9 (tie for No. 4)
Constituent response: 17 hours, 26 minutes (No. 14)
Communications response: 53 minutes (No. 10)
Google results: 54,700 (No. 9)
Twitter followers: 4,005 (No. 38)

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Press Coverage
NY1
Friday, August 11, 2017

But if experience matters, so does name recognition, which critics say creates an unfair advantage. The irony is that Council term limits and the city's robust public campaign finance system are designed to attract political newcomers, not professional politicians.

"The point of term limits is, we're supposed to have a citizen legislature," said City Councilman Ben Kallos of Manhattan.

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Press Coverage
City Limits
Thursday, August 10, 2017

Among those items passed are 11 of the 12 bills in the Stand for Tenant Safety package, which aims to address the use of construction as a type of tenant harassment. A large coalition of tenant and community organizations has been advocating for the bills since 2015. Members of the Progressive caucus also recently penned an op-ed calling on the Council to pass the package.

“Even as preserving and creating affordable housing has remained a focus of both the City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, the myriad loopholes landlords use in existing laws allow the number of rent-regulated apartments to dwindle. With both the cost of living in the city and rent continuing to rise, protecting the health and safety of tenants through legislation is the minimum of what can be done,” wrote Council members Antonio Reynoso, Donovan Richards, Helen Rosenthal and Ben Kallos in Gotham Gazette on July 31.

The other seven bills include a package aimed at strengthening the city’s laws concerning harassment of all types and a bill that seeks to improve the city’s fine-collection by denying landlords with certain levels of debt the ability to obtain work permits (excepting for repairs necessary to correct dangerous situations).

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Press Release
Wednesday, 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.

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Press Coverage
AM New York
Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The lawmakers also demanded answers for why capital construction costs so much. At $4.5 billion for three new stations, the Second Avenue subway’s first phase was the most expensive subway project in the world, according to transit experts.

“In other parts of the globe, when subway systems are being built or expanded, they do not remotely come close to the challenges we are facing here in New York City,” Hakim said. “You see it when you go by an open utility construction pit and you look in at the maze, the spaghetti of utilities.”

Still, several council members felt that New York was falling behind other cities.

“What does Russia know that we don’t?” asked Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos, who wondered why Moscow runs more trains per hour than the MTA.

Hakim pointed out that Moscow doesn’t run a 24-hour subway system. “Try to get the subway in Moscow at 2 o’clock in the morning; they’re closed,” she said.

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