New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus Updates

Letter to Mayor de Blasio Concerning the Effect of COVID-19 on Nonprofit Businesses

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing Non-profit organizations, specifically human service providers, to operate under heavy financial burdens. Many are providing vital services under serious challenges, while others face mandated closures. One of the biggest challenges being faced, include not being able to meet contracted service requirements. While non-profits face these increasing challenges, they continue to have fiscal obligations such as rent, payroll, and other overhead costs that are primarily paid for by City provided funds. These funds are typically tied to unit of service requirements established in their City contracts.

Many providers are reporting that clients are not able to participate in person for safety reasons and many have started utilizing phone and video conferencing as opposed to in-person meetings. Although, these organizations are being innovative in delivering services, most are not currently equipped to do so and all have incurred increased costs creating cash flow concerns.

Providers are also communicating other issues affecting staff. Some have staff who are unable to work onsite safely due to social distancing guidelines but could work remotely. However for various reasons, including contractual language, providers cannot allow for telecommuting as an option for staff.  Still other providers have workers who cannot practically work from home, such as food servers, who they must send home without a guarantee of being able to pay these workers to stay home. The City must provide relief for these affected providers.

Statement in Support of Expanding Beds at Coler Public Hospital for Coronavirus Treatment

Monday, March 16, 2020

We need every bed we can find to care for those who may come down with coronavirus. These 350 beds at Coler public hospital can really help provide the critical care that our family, friends, and neighbors may need to recover. I am proud to represent so many hospitals, including public hospitals like Coler, that can play a pivotal role in treating our most vulnerable.

Once we are through this crisis, we must reverse the damage done by the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century in 2006 that recommended closure of 9 facilities, affected 57 hospitals and 81 acute care and long-term care facilities removing as many as 4,200 inpatient beds from our healthcare system. We must rebuild a resilient medical system that can run at a fraction of built capacity, ready to take on the next major medical emergency or pandemic.

STATEMENT: Council Member Kallos on New York City Schools Remaining Open During COVID-19 Outbreak

Friday, March 13, 2020

Many parents have expressed concern that New York City public schools have so far remained open during this COVID-19 outbreak. As a parent myself, I too share those same concerns regarding the safety of our children.

The decision to close schools rests with Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Education. I have personally communicated your concerns to City Hall and have joined Speaker Corey Johnson and UFT President Michael Mulgrew in urging the Mayor to take aggressive actions such as an official policy allowing students the option to learn from home or even full school closure, in order to keep our teachers and children safe.

Moving towards temporarily online instruction will be difficult without Universal Broadband. In the past, we've worked with Charter Communications to help bridge the digital divide with Internet Assist for students on free and reduced lunch or seniors receiving supplemental social security. 

After I worked with Silicon Harlem to recommend free broadband during this outbreak, Charter announced free broadband and Wi-Fi for every student K-12 to college who does not already have broadband for the next 60 days starting this Monday.

Free and low-cost broadband for all students is the key element we needed to allow our children to continue their learning in the safety and security of their homes.

My office and I remain in close communication with state officials and the Mayor's office as this situation develops.

Kallos and Silicon Harlem Applaud Free Broadband for Students from Charter and Call on All Other Providers to Do the Same

Friday, March 13, 2020

Statement from Council Member Ben Kallos:

Technology is going to be a major tool in fighting the spread of novel coronavirus, but only for those who aren't trapped on the wrong side of the digital divide.

We've worked with Charter to bridge the digital divide with Internet Assist for students on free and reduced lunch or seniors receiving supplemental social security. Today, Charter announced free broadband and Wi-Fi for every student K-12 to college who does not already have broadband for the next 60 days.

Free and low-cost broadband for all students is the key element we needed to allow our children to continue their learning in the safety and security of their homes.

Thank you to Silicon Harlem for their leadership and partnership. Thank you to Charter for leading by example and I call on every other phone and cable internet provider to take similar steps to save us all.

 

Statement from Clayton Banks Co-Founder and CEO of Silicon Harlem:

The 2020 pandemic sheds light on the need for connectivity, devices, and digital literacy for our workforce, students, and underserved communities. I stand with Ben Kallos, and commend the effort of Charter to be a part of the solution.

Get involved to make your voice heard.

Get monthly updates with the information you need to make a difference.