Updates

Press Coverage
GCN
Tuesday, October 18, 2016

State agencies can now leverage an open source tool to help ensure that individuals eligible for income-based human service benefits actually receive them.

The software is Benefit Assist, and it was first launched in 2015 by Intuit for that company’s TurboTax users. Benefit Assist sifts through tax information to help determine a person’s eligibility for benefits from programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid and Medicare.

Now, Intuit has partnered with New York City Council Member Ben Kallos and the federal government's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to make its eligibility software free and open source code, according to the company.

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Press Release
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Maz Mezcal Mexican Restaurant, Upper Eastside — New York City Department of Finance (DOF) Commissioner Jacques Jiha, DOF Deputy Commissioner Jeffrey Shear, New York City Council Member Ben Kallos, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce President, Ms. Jessica Walker and the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit (CAU), gather to encourage Upper East Side businesses to take advantage of “Forgiving Fines: The New York City Amnesty Program.” This 90-day initiative will forgive penalties and interest on violations received by individuals and business owners from the Department of Sanitation, Department of Buildings and other City agencies, reducing and eliminating debt owed to the City. The program runs from September 12, 2016 to December 12, 2016 and covers unpaid violations that are now in judgment. There are roughly 1.4 million violations in judgment.

Under the three-month amnesty program authorized by Mayor de Blasio and the City Council, New York City is forgiving penalties, interest and added fees on violations received by home and business owners from the Department of Sanitation, Department of Buildings, NYPD, FDNY and other City agencies. 

"Upper East Side small businesses have gone through a lot over the last couple of years with the construction of the 2nd Avenue Subway. Those same businesses are what make this community special and this neighborhood desirable," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "The Department of Finance's Forgiving Fines program gives small businesses a chance to catch up on outstanding fines and start with a cleaner slate. The program offers a 90-day window to participate and I encourage businesses with unpaid fines to use this opportunity."

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Press Release
Tuesday, October 18, 2016

New York, NY – The Department of Transportation has eliminated left turns off York Avenue at 79th Street to make the street crossing safer for pedestrians, in response to advocacy by the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association, Community Board 8 Manhattan, and Council Member Ben Kallos.

For seven years East 79th Street and York Avenue had the distinction of being one of the only intersections in the city where red lights would stop cars going South, East and West, but not North, leading to conflicts between pedestrians and speeding vehicles. A frequent vignette would play out multiple times a day, where a pedestrian seeing vehicles stopped in three directions would begin to cross York Avenue at 79th Street, only to be surprised as a vehicle going North, did not stop entering the intersection at high speed, often causing the pedestrian run or jump out of the way.

 
 
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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The board voted to support that request and Councilman Ben Kallos, who names 79th and York Avenue a dangerous intersection in his "Livable Streets" report, worked with them to get the DOT to solve the issue over the past six months.

“Every day I saw pedestrians crossing York Avenue getting caught by surprise as they dodged northbound cars that barreled through the intersection at 79th Street,” Kallos said in a statement.

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Press Coverage
NY1
Thursday, October 6, 2016

"Why can't we just pay with our cellphones like you can in so many other places? Why can't you just tap and go as you get on every single entrance of the bus?" said City Councilman Ben Kallos of Manhattan.

 

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Tuesday, October 11, 2016

That outcome is largely the reason Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, requested that the authority add SBS to the M66, M96 and M79 bus lines.

“After the success of M86, we wanted to bring it to M79,” Kallos said after the meeting.

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Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Friday, October 14, 2016

Borelli, who sits on the Council’s governmental operations committee, which has oversight of the Board of Elections, wrote to committee chair Ben Kallos, a Democrat from Manhattan, requesting the hearing. Kallos told Gotham Gazette on Thursday that he disagrees with Borelli about the need for a state voter identification law and said that he will bring up the fraud allegations by BOE Commissioner Alan Schulkin at an already-planned elections oversight hearing in October.

Council Member Kallos told Gotham Gazette he “fervently” disagrees with Borelli. “I do not believe that we need voter identification,” he said. “I believe it is a tool used to disenfranchise voters.”

Kallos said he was “troubled and concerned” about Schulkin’s comments in the video and would bring the issue up at an oversight hearing already in the works before Borelli sent his letter -- the City Council holds a hearing ahead of election administration.

“Everything that was said is troubling,” Kallos said of the video, which released the same day that Kallos hosted an IDNYC pop-up registration event on Roosevelt Island. “We hope to have oversight of the BOE...to find out what happened, whether any of these views had an impact in the conduct of any of the presidential primary elections or any election since this man has been appointed to the BOE.”

 

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Press Coverage
Potomac TechWire
Friday, October 14, 2016

(Washington, DC) The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Servicessaid it has teamed with financial software maker Intuit to release the company's Benefit Assist software as free, open source code on GitHub. The move will allow anyone to freely use, share and improve upon Benefit Assist. The goal is to help people more easily determine eligibility and apply for income-based government benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/Food Stamps and free mobile phone service.
https://github.com/CMSgov/BenefitAssist

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Press Coverage
Wednesday, October 12, 2016

“New Yorkers have until Friday to register for what may be the most important general election in our lifetime,” said Councilmember Ben Kallos, who chairs the Committee on Governmental Operations with oversight over the Board of Elections. “New York City’s collective voice must be heard at this year’s election, for that occur residents must ensure they are registered to vote.”

 

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Press Coverage
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Wednesday, October 12, 2016

“I am excited to become one of the almost 1 million IDNYC cardholders, and I am proud to do it in my district on Roosevelt Island,” said Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side-Midtown East-Roosevelt Island), who personally signed up for an IDNYC card after the press conference.

 

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Press Release
Thursday, October 13, 2016

HHS and Intuit Release App to Fight Poverty Nationwide

Federal Government to host Intuit Benefit Assist as a free, open source Tool to Help More Americans

 Washington, D.C. – Oct. 13, 2016 – Approximately one in six Americans do not have enough money for food or other essential needs and they often miss out on income-based government benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/Food Stamps or free mobile phone service.  To make it easier for Americans to determine eligibility and apply for these benefits, Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq: INTU), through a collaboration with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and New York City Council Member Ben Kallos, is releasing to the Federal Government its Benefit Assist software as free, open source code on GitHub with a demonstration. Now anyone, whether state government, non-profit or a developer, can freely use, share and improve upon Benefit Assist to help Americans in find and use these valuable benefits.

States will be able to save money using Benefit Assist to collectively build and improve on the software to reduce overhead, potentially saving our nation billions.

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Press Coverage
Politico
Saturday, October 15, 2016

An online tool from tax preparation company Intuit that can easily determine whether an application is eligible for food stamps or other benefits is now freely available through a federal agency to states, local governments or nonprofit organizations.

Councilman Ben Kallos has been pushing for legislation that would require the city to use income tax filings to determine eligibility for public benefits.

Last year, Intuit made the Benefit Assist tool available to help users of TurboTax determine whether they were eligible for an array of programs, including SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare and many others.

 

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Press Coverage
Manhattan Express
Thursday, October 13, 2016

City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who has been a fierce proponent of CB8’s mission to end private management of the park, said he is ready to allocate funds for this cause.

“I have already represented to the parks department that I would be interested in investing capital funding from my office,” Kallos said, adding there was additional money available from Borough President Gale Brewer and the state.

“I am willing to put my money where my mouth is in investing in this park,” Kallos said.

CB8 has brought up the idea of establishing a conservancy for the park that would raise money for maintenance and other expenses.

The parks department has indicated that if it decides to revert the Queensboro Oval to public management, it would take more than three years to create a fully accessible park.

Kallos insisted that in that scenario, the park should not go unused. Sutton East, he said, could remain in the space during the months it has a license to run its tennis facility provided that it return the park to its original condition during the summer months –– as its license currently requires.

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Press Release
Wednesday, October 12, 2016

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Press Coverage
Roosevelt Island Daily
Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Office of Immigration Affairs opened a one week pop-up today at the Carter Burden Center on Roosevelt Island. A team will assist residents in applying for the IDNYC card. Unexpectedly, on the same day, a slipshod report in the New York Post attacked the popular program. Council Member Ben Kallos used the occasion to briskly knock the report down.

"What I love about this ID Card is it shows that what is good for older people is good for everyone," said Bill Dionne, Executive Director of the Carter Burden Center for the Aging.

Carter Burden, which oversees the Roosevelt Island Senior Center at 546 Main Street, is hosting the week long pop-up. It runs daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and until noon on Monday, October 17th. While Dionne and others spoke, Office of Immigration Affairs staffers could be seen at their computers in an adjoining room, already working with early applicants.

Deputy Commissioner Kavita Pawria-Sanchez reported, "As of today, enrollment has grown to 900,000 cardholders, already one out of every ten New Yorkers."

 

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Monday, October 10, 2016

UPPER EAST SIDE — Thousands of locals have signed a petition to add East 72nd Street to the M15 Select Bus Service route along First and Second avenues.

The stop was removed from the M15's express route when the MTAreplaced limited bus service with Select Bus Service along the line six years ago.

Now, residents have to walk to East 68th Street, East 67th Street or up to the East 79th Street stop to catch the Select Bus, a hike they say is difficult for the elderly and disabled. The other option is to wait up to 30 minutes for the local bus, residents said.

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Press Release
Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Statement from New York City Council Member Ben Kallos

Chair of the Committee of Governmental Operations (with oversight over the Board of Elections)

“No identification is required to vote in New York City and State.  Any voter can show up on election day to the correct polling place and cast their vote, with their signature used to verify their identify. Any voter has right to vote wearing whatever clothing they wish as their signature is their sole verification of identity.

New Yorkers have until Friday to register for what may be the most important election in our lifetime.

IDNYC provides one municipal ID for all 8.4 million New Yorkers. Obtaining an IDNYC requires stringent proof of identity, birth date, and residency. No elected or appointed city official should be making baseless accusations of fraud about IDNYC or voting. No elections commissioner should be undermining the very elections they have a duty to run. I look forward to holding a hearing of the committee on Governmental Operations on the upcoming election where we will get answers from the Democratic Elections Commissioner for Manhattan.”

Today, Council Member Kallos made similar remarks at an IDNYC Pop-Up launch event that he sponsored on Roosevelt Island

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Press Release
Tuesday, October 11, 2016

 

IDNYC, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, and City, State and Federal Elected Officials Announce New IDNYC Pop-Up Enrollment Center on Roosevelt Island

Pop-Up sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, Senator José M. Serrano, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation

Roosevelt Island, New York – Beginning October 11th at 10:00a.m., IDNYC, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), Council Member Ben Kallos, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, Senator Jose M. Serrano, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation are co-sponsoring a new IDNYC Pop-Up Enrollment Center. Located at the Roosevelt Island Senior Center – a program of the Carter Burden Center for the Aging at 546 Main Street, the center will run from October 11th until October 17th with operating hours of Monday from 9:00a.m. – 12:00p.m., and Tuesday through Friday from 9:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. Council Member Kallos will enroll for his own IDNYC card immediately following the press event.

 

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Press Release
Friday, October 7, 2016

2,700 Sign Petition to Restore Select Bus Service at 72nd Street

 New York, NY - Today the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City Transit were petitioned by over 2,700 Upper Eastside residents and the five elected officials that represent this area at every level of government to restore the M15 Select Bus Service stop at 72nd Street ahead of the completion of the Second Avenue Subway.
 
When Select Bus Service was introduced to First and Second Avenues on the M15 route these stops replaced Limited Service stops in every location above Houston Street other East 72nd Street. Residents who live near 72nd Street must choose between walking as much as half a mile to Select Bus Service at 67th or 79th Streets, too far for one-third of households in the immediate neighborhood with children or seniors.

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Press Release
Friday, October 7, 2016

Dear President Hakim,

 

Please restore the M15 Select Bus Service at 72nd Street. The M15 Limited stopped at 72nd Street until it was phased out in favor of M15 Select Bus Service. With high bus-dependent populations, infrequent local service, crosstown bus service, hospitals, community support and opening of the Second Avenue Subway with a station at 72nd Street, now is the perfect opportunity to increase ridership by restoring M15 Select Bus Service at 72nd Street.

72nd Street Only Location Omitted from Select Bus Service

When Select Bus Service was introduced to First and Second Avenues on the M15 route, Select Bus Stations replaced Limited Service stops in every location above Houston Street other than East 72nd Street. Since October 2010, residents living in the East 72nd Street area, for example at 73rd off York Avenue, now must choose between walking three avenues and six blocks, more than half a mile, to a Select Bus Service bus station at 67th or 79th Streets and Second Avenue, versus half that distance to 72nd Street. Walking more than half a mile in both directions is simply too far for many residents.

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Press Release
Thursday, October 6, 2016

New York – On Thursday, the Bus Turnaround coalition held a rally at City Hall to call on the MTA and DOT to undertake sweeping changes to fix bus service, where ridership has been in free-fall for a number of years. At the rally, the coalition released a new website, BusTurnaround.nyc, which features new route-level “report cards” with speed and reliability data for local buses and interactive “ride-along” stories where users can compare the buses NYC has today with the buses we could have if the Turnaround campaign’s practical strategies are implemented.

 

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