The beginning of March feels like a lifetime ago, before the “new normal” we are all now living. Thank you to every New Yorker who is staying home, to those working in essential roles, and to everyone making huge sacrifices as we work together to flatten the curve to save those most at risk from COVID-19. Although we won’t be returning to our regular routines in time for the upcoming holidays, I want to wish everyone a Happy Passover, Easter, and Ramadan.
As of today, we have 113,000 cases and 1,895 deaths nationwide, 52,318 cases and 728 deaths in New York State, 29,777 cases and 517 deaths in New York City.
Senator Chuck Schumer led the Senate in passing a $2 trillion relief package that was signed into law yesterday that includes direct $1,200 payments, improved unemployment benefits, funding for the MTA, medical supplies for New York, and loans for small businesses. Learn how it applies to you.
To combat the pandemic, we've supported efforts to open 550 beds in the district for the surge, and we have connected with countless people near and far offering to donate, manufacture, or source personal protective equipment to the city and state's healthcare systems. We've provided laptops to students to learn from home and worked with internet service providers to provide free broadband to students who don't already have it. New York state remains under the Governor’s “PAUSE” directive.
I wrote an op-ed in Crain's with economist Teresa Ghilarducci outlining the 5 things we can do to save small businesses. I also wrote an open thank you letter in LaborPress to the teachers, healthcare workers, cleaners, MTA workers, police officers, EMTs, utility workers, restaurant workers and delivery workers who have been keeping this City running during this time.
This month I proposed new legislation aimed at increasing access to NYC’s specialized high schools and we announced the opening of two French dual language pre-kingedergarten classes following our collective advocacy.
One tradition I would still like to honor is my office’s monthly First Friday meetings. I am inviting residents to join me for a First Friday on video or tele-conference on April 3rd at 8:00am using Zoom.
How have you been holding up? Is there anything I can do to help? Let me know.
Council Member, District 5
- $2 Trillion Relief Package: How It Applies to You
- 550 New Beds for Treating Coronavirus
- Arrival of Navy Medical Ship to Ease NYC Hospital Surge
- Securing Personal Protective Equipment for Healthcare Workers
- New York State on PAUSE
- Senior Centers Closed with Volunteer Opportunities
- Keeping Nonprofits Open During Pandemic
YOUTH & EDUCATION
- Laptops Purchased With My Funding Used for Remote Learning
- Free Broadband for All Public Students (Who Don’t Have It)
- Free Zoom Video/Tele-Conference for Public Schools
- Remote Learning for K-12 Students
- Food Pickups for NYC Students
- Legislation to Increase Diversity and Access to Specialized High Schools
- Cutting the Ribbon on $212,000 Library Upgrade for Eleanor Roosevelt High School
- Won French Dual Language Pre-Kindergarten for Upper East Side
- Healthy Happy Meals Taking Effect
- “A Taste of Wagner” Silent Auction and Dinner
- Sign the Petition for Universal 3K
- Citi Bikes Coming to Roosevelt Island
- Street Closures
- Revel Scooters Offer Free Rides to Medical Workers
- Alternate Side Parking Suspended
- Ride-Share, Pools, and Shared Access-a-Ride Trips Limited
- How Drivers Can Stay Safe During COVID-19
- International Travel: Return Home If Abroad
- New Affordable Housing Units Now Available on 86th Street
- Tenants’ Rights During COVID-19 Pandemic
- Legal Assistance for Tenants in HUD-subsidized Housing
- Mortgage Relief
JOBS, SMALL BUSINESS & VOLUNTEERING
- Crain’s Op-Ed: “Five Steps to Save Small Business During the Pandemic”
- Op-Ed for LaborPress: “Thank Our Workers”
- No Wait for Unemployment
- Resources for Small Businesses
- Recruiting Licensed Drivers for COVID-19 Relief
- The Hebrew Free Loan Society to Help Small Business Hurt by COVID-19
- Serving Up Justice: 32BJ Rallies for Fast Food Workers
- Operation “5-Borough Food Drive” Citywide Initiative
- Combating Food Insecurity with GetFoodNYC
- Urban Outreach Center NYC Opens Food Pantry
- ASPCA Commits $5 Mill in COVID-19 Relief Initiative to Help Pet Owners
- Accessible Entrance for John Finley Walk Completed
- Remembering Dave Rosenstein
- SOMOS Albany 2020 Conference
- COVID-19 Relief Funds
- Hotlines for your COVID-19 Questions
- Taking Care of Your Mental Health
- New Yorkers with Disabilities
- Medicare Rights is here to help!
- NYPL Connect: Access Tools from home
- How to Donate Much Needed Blood Safely
- Museum of Jewish Heritage Shares Resources Online
- New York Academy of Medicine Resources Online
- Child Mind Institute: Support and Resources
$2 Trillion Relief Package Deal Reached
Yesterday, the federal government enacted a much-needed $2 trillion relief package to keep our country’s economy afloat for the next few months. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney won key victories that will help New York get through this crisis.
Direct Payments: $1,200 for individuals making less than $75,000, with lower payments for those making up to $99,000. Married couples making up to $150,000 will get $2,400 plus $500 per child under the age of 16. This will amount to roughly $15 billion for New Yorkers. Checks will be distributed by the IRS and determined by your 2019 or 2018 taxes. If you have not filled since 2017 and want to receive a check you should do so now. For directions, visit irs.gov/coronavirus
Unemployment Benefits: $250 billion for unemployment benefits, allowing out of work New Yorkers to receive an additional $600 per week over the usual maximum to help close the gap for those who have been laid off because of the crisis. New York has waived the 7 day waiting period for individuals impacted by COVID-19. Minority Leader Schumer called the new benefits "unemployment insurance on steroids." To apply visit ny.gov/services/get-unemployment-assistance
Marshall Plan for Our Hospitals: Minority Leader Schumer negotiated billions of dollars for New York's hospitals which are experiencing the greatest surge in the country. This money will go to grants for healthcare providers, PPEs, testing supplies, training, and construction of emergency medical facilities.
Small Business Loans: $350 billion allocated to loans for small businesses with 500 or fewer employees. New York City's mom and pop shops were already struggling and many have been forced to close or have seen their revenues sharply decrease during this shutdown. Business owners can access these loans at sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
MTA Funding: $3.8 billion for the MTA as part of $25 billion for transportation systems nationwide. With New Yorkers staying at home and doing everything they can to avoid public transit, the MTA is hurting. The MTA received nearly all of the $4 billion in relief it asked for to keep our trains and buses running.
Education Funding: billions of dollars for emergency education funding and the elimination of income tax on student loan repayment assistance by an employer, priorities of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. Our education system has been completely interrupted, with schools shifting to remote learning and graduates struggling to pay their loans. This emergency funding will ease this transition.
Relief for New York State's Economy: $7.5 billion for New York's State and Local economies. As New York takes emergency measures to respond to the hospital surge, keep businesses afloat, and provide for New Yorkers who are struggling, the relief package will direct at least $7.5 billion negotiated by Minority Leader Schumer to shore up our state and local economies as part of $150 billion to state and local economies nationwide.
Oversight of All $2.2 Trillion by Congresswoman Maloney's House Oversight Committee: creation of a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, $20 Million to the Government Accountability Office for COVID-19 oversight, Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery, and a Congressional Oversight Commission all at the request of and overseen by the Oversight Committees of the Senate and the House.
For more information about the Federal Relief package, read the coverage in the New York Times or the full bill text.
550 New Beds for Treating Coronavirus
We need as many beds as we can get to treat our neighbors, friends and family who may test positive for coronavirus, so that no one dies who could have been treated. We’ve secured 550 new beds right here in the 5th Council District.
I have been supporting Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to open as many as 350 new beds at Coler Hospital on Roosevelt Island. While these new beds are not currently planned to serve patients testing positive for coronavirus, it will increase capacity throughout the public health system to treat as many people who contract coronavirus as possible.
Hospitals like Cornell/New York-Presbyterian will be on the front-lines as residents experiencing symptoms will be relying on their emergency services and treatment. Following a constituent’s suggestion, I reached out to Hospital Special Surgery (HSS), which proactively opted to suspend all nonessential onsite surgeries and care in order to open up more than 200 beds for coronavirus surge from Cornell/New York-Presbyterian. HSS will not only be providing space, but staff and vital supplies.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has been working with the Army Corps of Engineers to convert the Javits Center into a temporary hospital, a plan that would add up to 2,000 hospital beds. Together, these efforts and many others will supplement New York hospitals that are overwhelmed with coronavirus cases by providing medical care and protection for non-coronavirus patients.
After this crisis, we will need to 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. Along those same lines, the case for Medicare for All or a public option has never been stronger, as now anyone experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms needs access to free or affordable medical care, in order to protect all of us.
If you know of a space with existing capacity or a commercial space that can be converted to help those in need, please email Coronavirus@BenKallos.com.
Arrival of Navy Medical Ship to Ease NYC Hospital Surge
The U.S. Navy successfully worked to fast-track maintenance and repairs to the USNS Comfort and now the hospital ship is expected in New York City’s harbor by Monday, March 30 instead of mid-April.The ship will not be used to treat New York City’s COVID-19 patients however it will be able to serve patients from local hospitals who require surgery or other emergency care in order to free up space so that COVID-19 patients can be treated. The Comfort has 1,000 hospital beds and a dozen operating rooms onboard.
Securing More Personal Protective Equipment for Healthcare Workers
We are overwhelmed and humbled by the response to our last request for personal protective equipment with more than 60 people from here in the neighborhood, nationwide, and even the otherside of the planet reaching out to help.
With the shortage of personal protective equipment including gloves, masks, and gowns, we are asking anyone to sell any products not in use. Those interested in selling to the state should email firstname.lastname@example.org and copy Coronavirus@BenKallos.com.
We are also encouraging any company with proper equipment or personnel to begin the manufacture of PPE products. If you are interested in receiving state funding to manufacture PPE products, please email COVID19supplies@esd.ny.gov with copy to Coronavirus@BenKallos.com.
If you have a way of obtaining or producing personal protective equipment such as masks, surgical gowns and face shields for our City’s doctors and nurses on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19, please email Coronavirus@BenKallos.com.
If you have medical supplies you would like to donate to the City, email email@example.com to get info needed to make shipments. This can also be used for more info on the contracts in the event of sale.
New York State on PAUSE
Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed the “New York State on PAUSE” Executive Order, which took effect on March 22nd. The Executive Order remains effective until April 19, 2020, though it may be modified as necessary, including possible extension. For a list of essential businesses, see our last update at BenKallos.com/newsletters or read our previous updates in Update #4.
The 10-point NYS on PAUSE plan is as follows:
- Effective at 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, all non-essential businesses statewide will be closed;
- Non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason (e.g. parties, celebrations or other social events) are canceled or postponed at this time;
- Any concentration of individuals outside their home must be limited to workers providing essential services and social distancing should be practiced;
- When in public individuals must practice social distancing of at least six feet from others;
- Businesses and entities that provide other essential services must implement rules that help facilitate social distancing of at least six feet;
- Individuals should limit outdoor recreational activities to non-contact and avoid activities where they come in close contact with other people;
- Individuals should limit use of public transportation to when absolutely necessary and should limit potential exposure by spacing out at least six feet from other riders;
- Sick individuals should not leave their home unless to receive medical care and only after a telehealth visit to determine if leaving the home is in the best interest of their health;
- Young people should also practice social distancing and avoid contact with vulnerable populations; and
- Use precautionary sanitizer practices such as using isopropyl alcohol wipes.
“Matilda's Law” includes the following rules for vulnerable populations (including anyone 70 and older or with a compromised immune system):
- Remain indoors;
- Can go outside for solitary exercise;
- Pre-screen all visitors and aides by taking their temperature and seeing if person is exhibiting other flu-like symptoms;
- Do not visit households with multiple people;
- Wear a mask when in the company of others;
- To the greatest extent possible, everyone in the presence of vulnerable people should wear a mask;
- Always stay at least six feet away from individuals; and
- Do not take public transportation unless urgent and absolutely necessary
To report companies or individuals breaking the Governor’s mandate, you can contact Attorney General Tish James by calling (212) 416-8700 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior Centers Closed with Volunteer Opportunities
With Pix 11 News and Upper East Side Patch helping me to spread the word, I urged local residents who were healthy and available to volunteer to serve seniors affected by the closure of senior centers.
As a result of the Governor and Mayor’s mandates, senior centers are closed but providing meals to those in need.
- Stanley Isaacs Center is looking for volunteers to help serve residents with Meals on Wheels. Those interested should email email@example.com
- Carter Burden Luncheon Club will be offering lunch from 12pm–2pm. If you have any questions, please call the main office at 212-879-7400.
- Lenox Hill Neighborhood House has closed but is still delivering meals and helping clients via telephone. Anyone with questions can call them at 212-744-5020.
Keeping Non-Profits Open
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our office has received many calls and emails from nonprofit human service providers, seeking reassurances that contract payments would continue amidst the current public health emergency. Many reported that they were providing services, such as childcare and food delivery, that were outside the scope of the contracts they currently have with the City. We wrote a letter to the Mayor’s office on March 18th asking the following:
1. The City must suspend all unit of measure requirements in Human Service Provider Contracts impacted by COVID-19.
2. The City must provide reimbursements for any costs associated with increased costs for service delivery associated with the COVID-19 response.
3. The City must provide cash advancements to these non-profits, without the need to secure fidelity bonds or other administrative impediments, allowing them to manage this emergency efficiently and continue to meet their obligations.
4. The City must delay the repayments on contract advances until the end of the fiscal year to allow these organizations to meet their current obligations.
5. For providers facing difficulties with staff working remotely due to contractual restrictions, the City must lift any contractual restrictions preventing providers from offering staff to work remotely and further the City must allow providers to pay staff who must stay home and are unable to work remotely.
The good news is that the Mayor’s office heard our request and provided the assurances we requested in our letter. The Mayor's Office of Contract Services (MOCS) communicated that providers and staff will continue to be paid as long as they are working with their contracting agencies on a plan to continue, modify, or suspend services. Any nonprofit provider needing help with any contract issues may email Contracts@BenKallos.com for assistance.
YOUTH & EDUCATION
Laptops Purchased With My Funding Used for Remote Learning
Since I took office, we have invested millions of dollars in STEM funding for our local public schools. Much of that money has gone towards buying laptops. Who knew these laptops would be this useful? I am grateful that Life Sciences High School was able to deploy these laptops to students to learn from home during this pandemic. The City needs to invest in laptops for every student to make sure no child ends up on the wrong side of the digital divide.
Free Broadband for All Public Students (Who Don’t Have It)
Free Zoom Video/Tele-Conference for Public Schools
Zoom has announced free accounts for all K-12 public schools. Zoom is temporarily removing the 40-minute limit on free Basic accounts for schools in Japan and Italy, and for K-12 schools in the United States by request. Administrators, staff and teachers can simply sign up for a free Zoom account then have members of your school fill out this form to request the temporary removal. Upon verification, all free basic accounts using your school’s email domain will have the time restriction lifted.
Now, teachers will be able to log in, schedule their classes and send out invites for students to partake in virtual instruction. Students are not required to have a Zoom account and can join classes using the links sent from the teacher. Learn more from Zoom.us.
Remote Learning for K-12 Students
To help with this issue, I worked with Charter Communications to offer free broadband and Wi-Fi for students in grades K-12 or in college who don’t already have home internet access. Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said the DOE has distributed over 175,000 laptops, iPads, and Chromebooks by March 24. Teachers have reported a refreshing eagerness and willingness to work from most students as they log into their Google Classrooms from around the City.
Food Pickups for NYC Students
Many of our City’s children depend on the food they get at school each and everyday in order to not go hungry. To prevent this from happening the Department of Education began serving three free meals a day to make sure kids are fed as they are educated remotely. The three meals, including breakfast, are served weekdays from 7:30a.m. and 1:30p.m. at more than 400 sites across the city. Every New York City student aged 18 years-old or younger is eligible for the free meals.
Legislation to Increase Diversity and Access to Specialized High Schools
On March 19th, a coalition of city elected officials, including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Council Members Robert Cornegy, Justin Brannan and I, proposed new legislation aimed at increasing racial equity at NYC’s specialized high schools. Currently, fewer than 10% of NYC’s public middle schools provide access to free test prep, and while Black and Latinx students make up nearly 70% of NYC public school students, they recently only accounted for 10% of admitted students in the City’s five specialized high schools.
As the Daily News reported, the legislation would ensure test prep is systemwide by requiring the Department of Education (DOE) to finally provide every middle school student with free test preparation and automatically register every 8th grader for the SHSAT test. This, we believe, would immediately make thousands more Black and Latinx students eligible for admission to a specialized high school.
Since Public Advocate Williams started attending Brooklyn Technical High School in 1992, the Black student population has fallen from 38% to 7% as of 2016. When I started at the Bronx High School of Science in 1994, the demographics included 10% Hispanic, 12% Black, 38% White, and 40% Asian, yet now the Hispanic and Black student populations have more than halved to only 9% as of 2017. Show your support for this legislation to require every middle school student in the city of New York to be offered preparation and examination to attend the Specialized High Schools by signing the petition at BenKallos.com/Petition/SHSAT
Cutting the Ribbon on $212,000 Library Upgrade for Eleanor Roosevelt High School
I joined Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and the students and school administrators at Eleanor Roosevelt High School to cut the ribbon on $212,000 worth of equipment and upgrades to the school’s library. The renovations include new LED lighting, new flooring, furniture and even new podcasting equipment. Congresswoman Maloney, who was accompanied by members of her youth council at the ribbon-cutting, helped to found the school back in 2002. Members of the United Federation of Teachers and Council of School Supervisors and Administrators were also in attendance as we marked this special occasion. For more information read the release or watch the ribbon-cutting at BenKallos.com/videos
Won French Dual Language Pre-Kindergarten for Upper East Side
I am proud to announce that a French dual-language program with two classes will officially be offered at a pre-K center on the Upper East Side, just in time for fall 2020. As Our Town reported, more than two hundred families signed our petition pledging to send their children to a French dual-language program in Manhattan, which helped prove the need for this program to the Department of Education (DOE). This rollout was made possible by months of hard work and advocacy alongside the U.S. French Embassy, the New York French Consulate, the Community Education Council, as well as members of the Francophone community like Fabrice Jaumont, Stephane Lautner and many more.
Thank you to the nearly 200 families who signed our petition for a French Dual Language program in School District 2 and pledging to participate. There were a number of meetings between my staff, residents and I as we worked to fulfill this need. Following our initial meeting and outreach to the Department of Education in December, we met again in February to address concerns and discuss our options while we waited for the DOE to take the necessary steps to implement programming. With your petition signatures we were able to press on and secure a meeting on Tuesday, March 4 with Deputy Chancellor Wallack to discuss launching a French Dual Language program at the East 76th Street Pre-Kindergarten Center. Now, what started as an idea will become reality this fall. For more information, visit BenKallos.com/press-releases and find more coverage at Cultural Services French Embassy in the US, Le Petit Journal, New York in French, New York County Politics, Patch, and Our Town.
Healthy Happy Meals Taking Effect
As featured on NBC 4, a law I authored to make kids’ meals in New York City healthier will go into effect this April. From the iconic McDonald’s Happy Meal to a kids’ meal at your local diner, all 24,000 restaurants in New York City with kids’ meals on their menu will now be required to make water, low-fat milk and 100% fruit juice the default beverage. Although parents can still order whatever they want for the kids, testimony from McDonald’s demonstrated that implementing this change resulted in half of kids meals including a healthy beverage.
Obesity is an epidemic in New York City and according to NYC Health, with 1 in 5 kindergarten students entering school already obese. The American Heart Association recommends that children limit consumption to one or fewer 8-oz sugar-sweetened beverages per week. Moreover, according to the New York Academy of Medicine’s testimony their scientific research shows that “12-oz serving of regular soda [in a kids meal can contain] more than 9 teaspoons of sugar. An average 8-year old would need to walk 70 minutes, or the distance between City Hall and Time Square, to walk the calories off.
Under this law, parents can still choose soda or any other beverage, but healthier options will be “the new normal” and what is displayed in menus and advertisements. Changing the default meal option would have a positive impact on reducing caloric intake and obesity in children. For more information on the law going into effect check out coverage in the New York Post or read the release at BenKallos.com/press-releases
“A Taste of Wagner” Silent Auction and Dinner
Annual “Taste of Wagner: Silent Auction & Dinner Benefit”
with Assembly Member Dan Quart.
Sign the Petition for Universal 3K
In 2017, Mayor de Blasio promised New York City families “3K for All”, however the City has no plans to cover up to two-thirds of children throughout the city. Currently, Manhattan has no 3K below 122nd Street.
While we do not have any 3K seats physically on the Upper East Side you are welcome to apply anywhere that does and it will help demonstrate need for our neighborhood. If you do apply, please let me know by emailing UPK@BenKallos.com. All NYC families with children born in 2016 can now apply to Pre-K for All. The pre-K application deadline has been extended. To March 29, 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated how important access to childcare is for everyone from first responders to grocery workers and we need to continue our investment in this essential service. Sign and share the petition to help support our fight to bring 3K Citywide at Benkallos.com/3k
Join First Friday on Zoom or Facebook Live
First Friday remains one of my favorite parts of my job as your Council Member. While we all must do our part by staying home, now more than ever, I want to listen to and address your concerns as we work together for a better city. This coming First Friday, April 3 at 8:00AM, we will move our monthly morning meeting to an online video and tele-conference using Zoom. I hope you can join me as we try this for the first time. There will likely be hiccups with the technology and you might even overhear my daughter bossing me around.
We will be able to host up to 100 participants.
Due to the limited number, you must RSVP to participate.
Video Conference: RSVP for your URL, create a free account at Zoom.us, RSVP
Teleconference: RSVP to receive the number and access code, RSVP
Facebook Live: Skip the RSVP and watch the stream at Facebook.com/BenKallos.
First Friday will run from 8:00AM to 10:00AM
Connection opens at 8AM. Teleconference and video will go live at 8:15AM.
Technical support available at 212-860-1950 starting at 8AM if you have any difficulty connecting.
RSVP at BenKallos.com/events/First-Friday-Online-April-2020
Citi Bikes Coming to Roosevelt Island
As a candidate to be your Council Member, bike share for Roosevelt Island was one of my first campaign promises. The program was also the first resolution we passed through Roosevelt Island Residents Association and Community Board 8. The Roosevelt Islander was first to identify a higher volume of requests for CitiBike from residents on Roosevelt Island than anywhere else in New York City.
In the years since, my office and I have worked and negotiated with multiple owners of CitiBike to pursue this expansion while eliminating costs to the Island. We also secured permission from the New York City Department of Transportation and found a willing partner in Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation President Susan Rosenthal to help push the effort forward. It is great to see the years of work finally paying off and I look forward to working with RIOC, RIRA and residents on a roll-out that makes CitiBike a welcome addition to Roosevelt Island. For more information on this visit Streetsblog NYC and Roosevelt Island Daily.
In addition, Mayor De Blasio, NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Lyft recently announced free 30-day Citi Bike memberships for critical workforce in response to COVID-19. The program includes unlimited 45-minute trips on classic bikes and e-bikes for 30 days. Healthcare employers should email HeroBikes@Lyft.com to obtain enrollment information to distribute to staff. For more information, visit citibikenyc.com
Working with the Council, starting March 27th there will be four street closures to provide open space for solitary exercise. The following street will be included in this closure:
- Bronx: Grand Concourse, between E. Burnside and 184th street
- Brooklyn: Bushwick Ave, Johnson to Flushing Avenue
- Manhattan: Park Ave, between 28th and 34th
- Queens: 34th Ave, between 73rd - 80th Street
Revel Scooters Offer Free Rides to Medical Workers
Revel the shared electric vehicle company Revel announced this month it will open a service area in Manhattan and provide free membership for health care workers so that they can get to and from work and between medical facilities.
Hundreds of healthcare professionals have signed up for Revel's free membership. Revel will open a service area encompassing all of Upper Manhattan down to 65th Street, which
covers major hospital centers including:
- Mount Sinai Medical Center
- Lenox Hill Hospital
- NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center
- NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center
- The Javits Center
- Bellevue Hospital Center
- Veterans Affairs New York Harbor Healthcare System
- NYU Langone Tisch Hospital
- Mount Sinai Beth Israel
Ride-Share, Pools, and Shared Access-a-Ride Trips Limited
Mayor de Blasio announced that he signed an executive order to ban ride shares and pools to protect drivers and riders alike, in agreement with the major ride-share companies. Uber has suspended Uber Pool in the US and Canada, following an expansion of its paid sick leave policy for drivers, while Lyft has suspended Lyft Line in “all markets.” The Metropolitan Transportation Authority also announced this week it would stop offering shared Access-A-Ride services to its mobility-impaired and elderly riders in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
How Ride Share Drivers Can Stay Safe During COVID-19
Do you know someone who drives for Uber/Lyft/Vital or another black car service? Let them know that they can now get access to free benefits paid for by The Black Car Fund including free calls with a doctor 24/7 and more. Learn more at: https://bit.ly/3aqbqGm
International Travel: Return Home If Abroad
- Your landlord cannot evict you, kick you out, or ask you to leave your apartment for being under home-quarantine or having COVID-19.
- Your landlord cannot discriminate against you, kick you out, or ask you to leave your apartment because of fears and stigma around COVID-19.
- Being under isolation or quarantine in a hospital or other facility does not change your tenancy – your apartment remains your primary residence.
- You will still need to pay rent during quarantine or any time in a medical facility, as is the case for any illness.
- If you have questions about your rights in the workplace or if you believe your employment protections have been violated, please visit the NYC Commission on Human Rights.
The City is here to help you maintain stable housing. If you have questions related to paying rent during quarantine or hospitalization due to COVID-19, you can contact the Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants.
Legal Assistance for Tenants in HUD-subsidized Housing
If you are a tenant in HUD-subsidized multifamily housing who has lost your job and can’t afford rent, please contact Molly Rockett, a housing attorney at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House who specializes in rent recertification issues, at MRockett@lenoxhill.org
Today, Governor Cuomo signed an executive order putting in place a 90-day mortgage relief plan to protect New York State families who are undergoing financial hardship related to COVID-19. Learn more about the announcement from NPR.
JOBS, SMALL BUSINESS & VOLUNTEERING
Crain’s Op-Ed: “Five Steps to Save Small Business During the Pandemic”
I worked with Teresa Ghilarducci, a professor of labor economics and the Director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at The New School to put into context the monumental changes that are going to have to be made in our economic system in order to save small and medium-sized businesses in New York City.
The government is shutting down the city’s small businesses to slow the spread of coronavirus and flatten the curve. As we take this drastic step to save the patients needing serious medical attention, we must do our part to save our vulnerable small businesses and our economy.
Five steps can help save small businesses during this pandemic-induced recession, inspired by student loan policies designed to relieve and manage debt. Many of us with student debt knew that if we had difficulty finding that first job, had a gap between jobs, or worse, we could defer payments until things got better. The federal government allows loan forgiveness if you make career choices benefiting the public.
While big corporations, the government, and the information economy may survive, according to the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis there are 461,000 small businesses employing 4.1 million people endangered by the economic crisis. Bold and urgent steps can help save our city’s mom and pop shops and their workers. Read the full op-ed co-authored by Teresa Ghilarducci in Crain’s New York Business.
Op-Ed for LaborPress: “Thank Our Workers”
While many of us are safe in our homes, there are workers, some making as little as $15 an hour some without benefits, who are putting their health and their families’ health at risk to keep New York City safe. These workers, who do so much, also receive little recognition for their efforts, as much of their work is done out of sight. Maintenance workers, cleaners, transit workers, healthcare workers, grocers, all have been affected by this pandemic in unseen ways. Join us in showing our appreciation. Read my full op-ed at LaborPress.org
No Wait for Unemployment
New York State is waiving the 7-day waiting period for unemployment insurance benefits for people who are out of work due to COVID-19 closures or quarantines.
In early March, Congress passed the first emergency relief package for workers around the country designed to back state governments and support them with additional social services for families and workers who have lost their livelihoods due the COVID-19 outbreak.
Unemployment insurance is temporary income for eligible workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. To collect benefits, you must be ready, willing and able to work, and actively looking for work during each week in which you are claiming benefits.
For more information, visit www.ny.gov/services/get-unemployment-assistance.
Pace University’s Small Business Development Center is also working to help New York City businesses. They are holding no-cost virtual meetings/calls with Pace SBDC Business Advisors. For an appointment email firstname.lastname@example.org and check their website for updates on available small business resources.
Resources for Small Businesses
The New York City Small Business Administration has announced that businesses with fewer than 100 employees that have seen sales decreases of 25% or more because of COVID-19 are eligible for zero-interest loans of up to $75,000 to help mitigate losses in profit.
The City is also offering small businesses with fewer than 5 employees a grant to cover 40% of payroll costs for two months to help retain employees. Eligible owners who would like to learn more about these programs should fill out an interest form using SurveyMonkey.com.
Pace University’s Small Business Development Center is also working to help New York City businesses. They are holding no-cost virtual meetings/calls with Pace SBDC Business Advisors. For an appointment email email@example.com and check their website for updates on available small business resources.
Recruiting Licensed Drivers for COVID-19 Relief
The City has launched DeliveryTLC—to help with important work related to COVID-19, such as delivering food to older adults who can’t leave their homes. The City is recruiting TLC-licensed drivers for the jobs.
This work will be paid $15/hour plus reimbursement for gas and tolls. Drivers will be selected on a first-come, first-serve basis. The initial need for drivers will be small, but we expect it to increase as we expand our programs.
The Hebrew Free Loan Society to Help Small Business Hurt by COVID-19
The Coronavirus Financial Impact Loan Program provides interest-free loans of $2,000–$5,000 to residents of New York City’s five boroughs, Westchester, or Long Island who are facing financial challenges caused by the Coronavirus outbreak. Learn more: hfls.org/loan-programs/coronavirusfinancialimpactloan/
Serving Up Justice: 32BJ Rallies for Fast Food Workers
Rallying with Chipotle workers who are denied the right to paid sick leave. Workers must be allowed time off for their well-being, without having to fear termination as we continue to fight COVID-19.
Data Through Design Exhibit Opening Night & Open Data Week
At the start of the month, I attended the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics’ Open Data Week 2020 where I spoke about the importance of making open source and free public data accessible to more New Yorkers and the legislation I’ve authored to make that a reality.
Organizing 2.0 Fully Online
Organizing 2.0 brings which this year will be fully online, brings together hundreds of leaders, organizers, fundraisers, techies and activists to share their collective wisdom, skills, and talents. Programming will include workshops, training, discussions, consulting and networking opportunities. Over two days, April 17 and 18, the event will bring together hundreds of people to learn from each other, share stories and strategies and build our skills, organizations and movements. There will also be a focus on online to offline organizing, digital strategy, member engagement and much more. For more information to register and for a list of the speakers visit Conference.organizing20.org
Operation “5-Borough Food Drive” Citywide Initiative
FreshDirect, in partnership with all five of New York City’s Borough Presidents, have started “Operation 5-Borough Food Drive,” a citywide effort to help New York families in need of food. Following its launch on March 24, the program will consist of deliveries of thousands of grocery boxes. The packages will arrive at locations designated by each of the Borough Presidents. There will be two drop off locations: one location will receive deliveries Monday and Tuesday, the second, Wednesday–Friday. Each box is being provided free of charge by FreshDirect as well as contributions from partners and vendors. For more information on “Operation 5-Borough Food Drive” please visit www.freshdirect.com/fooddrive
Combating Food Insecurity with GetFoodNYC
The City recently created GetFoodNYC, a food delivery program to provide food for COVID-19-vulnerable and food-insecure New Yorkers who are not currently served through existing food delivery programs. This service and website is intended for individuals and families who meet the following criteria:
- No members of the household can go out and get food
- No neighbors or family members can go out and get food for you
- Do not receive meal assistance from Meals on Wheels or God's Love We Deliver
- Are unable to afford meal delivery or grocery delivery
- Pantry Hours:
- Wednesdays and Fridays from 9am - 1pm at the Church of the Living Hope, 161 E 104th St.
- Additional pantries distributed during the dinner program:
- Tuesdays from 5:50pm - 6:50pm at Madison Avenue & 73rd St., side entrance.
- Beginning March 31st, UOCNYC will be adding lunch service to the menu:
- Tuesdays from noon until supplies run out at Madison Avenue & 73rd St., side entrance. First come, first served up to 150 guests: Bagged sandwiches, with chips and a drink.
ASPCA Commits $5 Mill in COVID-19 Relief Initiative to Help Pet Owners
To assist pet owners and shelters affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ASPCA is launching the ASPCA Relief & Recovery Initiative, a $5 million relief response to the crisis. The response includes $2 million in grants to animal shelters in critical need of funds and pet food to pet owners who face challenges providing food for their animals. Residents interested should visit ASPCA.org
Disability-Accessible Ramp to John Finley Walk Completed
The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation has completed construction of a ramp to make the 82nd Street entrance to John Finley Walk ADA compliant. Completion of the ramp is a full month ahead of schedule and will hopefully serve many New Yorkers getting onto John Finley Walk to enjoy this part of our neighborhood. Thank you to Craig Wood, Claudia Ullman, Judy Altman, and all the residents of 1 Gracie Terrace who gave productive feedback that resulted in a much better design than the original proposal for this ramp.
Remembering Dave Rosenstein
My friend and Community Board 8 member, Dave Rosenstein passed away last month. Dave was a fixture and leader in this community, his life story was one redemption. As his friends and loved ones told Our Town, Dave “dedicated his life to saving others.” He helped people lead drug-free lives after having successfully beating addiction himself in his youth. Dave was a native Manhattanite who loved this neighborhood and did his best to protect residents as best as he could. Whether it was he neighbors from thieves in the 1970s or children being exposed to drug paraphernalia by local smoke shops just two years ago. Dave was a real friend, a genuinely kind person, and he will be missed.
SOMOS Albany 2020 Conference
At this year’s SOMOS Conference in Albany, I got to show my support for New York’s Latino population and observe panel discussions on an array of topics, including the privatization of public education and alternative reproductive options.
92Y’s Online Resources
The 92Y has created a daily email, sharing news of events that it is live streaming online learning for adults and children. The list includes activities for kids and families to do together at home, specially curated live and archived programs, and much more. To sign up for this email, head to 92y.org/92yathome and input your email address under "Stay in Touch."
FREE Moving For Life Video Classes Via Zoom
Join Moving For Life via Zoom every day at 6pm for online fitness classes that are open to everyone in your home (including kids). New online Dance Exercise for Health classes have been added for Tuesdays and Thursdays (RSVP here) and Sunday classes at 11am for adults over 50 has also resumed (RSVP here). Let's keep moving at home! Together, let's shake off the stress, boost immunity, keep the kids busy, and stay connected.
COVID-19 Relief Funds
Bloomberg Philanthropies and a number of foundations have created a $75 million NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund to support New York City-based social services and cultural organizations that have been affected by the crisis. To be eligible, each organization must be a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, based in New York City, already be a recipient of City and/or State government funding, operating on a budget of under $20M/yr and have a track record of robust programming and services for New York residents. Interested organizations can get more information and apply here.
There are also relief funds for employees of industries affected by COVID-19. Some community groups and individuals have set up donation drives for emergency relief funds. These funds will collect donations to provide relief to individual workers affected by COVID-19. So far, these funds exist for:
- Price Gouging hotline: 800-697-1220
- 24-Hour Coronavirus hotline: 1-888-364-3065
- Housing Court Answers’ hotline: 212-962-4795 (Monday–Friday, 9am to 5pm)
New Yorkers with Disabilities
During this crisis, New Yorkers can reach out on Twitter to @NYCDisabilities, 311 or visit nyc.gov/disability for more information. Deaf New Yorkers can also connect via video phone at 646-396-5830.
Medicare Rights Is Here to Help!
The Medicare Rights Center remains committed to ensuring New Yorkers have meaningful access to high-quality, affordable health care. Medicare Rights has temporarily moved to telework arrangements as they continue to work to serve those in need during the COVID-19 outbreak. Medicare Rights' Helpline remains staffed. Counselors are available at 800-333-4114, Monday through Friday. They can answer questions about Medicare, including those related to the coronavirus, and resolve complex cases related to Medicare and/or Medicaid including behavioral health, Medicaid long-term care, and related issues. For more information visit https://blog.medicarerights.org/
NYPL Connect: Access Tools from Home
All New York Public Library locations are temporarily closed through due to the rapidly changing situation in New York City around COVID-19. While their locations are closed, NYPL remains committed to serving the public. In order to better serve access to e-resources that are usually only available from our locations, including Ancestry.com, JSTOR, and The New York Times archive have now been made available.
You can also find a comprehensive list of their digital resources on our website. This includes access to e-books, research e-journals, online newspapers, and resources for young learners. Other resources that have not been facilitated are Borrow E-Books with SimplyE, Online Tools for Kids and Parents Bookflix: Read-Alouds for Kids.
How to Donate Much Needed Blood Safely
The New York Blood Center is in urgent need of donations right now. As medical needs throughout our area increase as a result of COVID-19, we cannot allow our blood reserve to remain critically low. Appointments can be made by calling 1-800-933-BLOOD or by sitting www.nybloodcenter.org to make an appointment.
Museum of Jewish Heritage Shares Resources Online
As a result of New York City students having to move to remote learning the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is providing resources to students across the City. The Museum guides and references for teachers and parents can be found at the Museum of Jewish Heritage website.
They are also doing virtual events with staff and outside participants, and they are posting additional content for online audiences to engage with the Museum and their mission. Virtual Museum events can be accessed at mjhnyc.org/current-events/
New York Academy of Medicine Resources Online
The NYAM Library remains committed to connecting you with the information you need, and our digital resources continue to be available to researchers, students, families and the general public.
To help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and for the safety of our visitors and staff, all in-person visits to the Library’s reading room are canceled until further notice. You can connect with our staff and access and engage with our collections and resources over the phone at 212-822-7315 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Child Mind Institute: Support and Resources
The Child Mind Institute is working to adapt services to continue to help the community in the midst of the challenges we are collectively facing. Students - and their parents - who are in treatment groups with a Child Mind Institute clinician, we are continuing to provide support digitally. We are doing so through:
- Individual phone sessions for patients, focused initially on coping and stabilization
- Phone consultation with the parents of our students to ensure stability and to triage needs
- Phone consultation with school mental health providers for our students
We have also reached out to our network of school and community partners to offer support. Our team is offering the following:
- Educator consultation on supporting students’ mental health needs via online learning
- Parent consultation for community parents about the stress of coronavirus lockdown and social distancing
- Regular communication about recommendations for parents in supporting their children and coping with stress
- Live or recorded versions of our resilience-building workshop modules for students with coping points adapted for coronavirus
- Continued availability of our free professional development webinars for educators at training.childmind.org, spanning a variety of mental health topics\Live educator professional development and parent workshops via digital platforms on a range of mental health topics
- Availability of a range of written resources for parents in both English and Spanish
More resources from the Child Mind Institute include:
- Daily coronavirus parenting tips via email – sign up here!
- Twice daily Facebook Live videochats (at 10:00am and 4:30pm EST) featuring our expert clinicians
- Daily parent tips on childmind.org, Facebook and Instagram at 8am
- Comprehensive coronavirus resources for parents on childmind.org
For more information visit childmind.org/coping-during-covid-19-resources-for-parents/
Free Legal Clinics
Need a lawyer? Every month I sponsor legal clinics where you can get free legal advice in my District Office at 244 East 93rd Street from 3pm – 6pm:
- General Civil Law, By Appointment Only
- Life Planning Clinic, 3rd Wednesday
- Family Law and Domestic Violence, 1st Tuesday
- Housing Clinics, Mondays and 1st Wednesday
Please call my office at 212-860-1950 or email ConstituentService@benkallos.com with the subject ‘Requesting Legal Clinic’ to make appointments to meet online or by phone.
Here to Help
We are here to help. My social work team can help you find out what services you are eligible for and assist you in your application. Some examples include:
- Seniors: Medicare savings, Meals-on-Wheels, Access-A-Ride
- Housing: searching for affordable units, free legal housing clinic at my office
- Job Resources: training resources and assistance, unemployment benefits
- Families: Universal Pre-K, Head Start, After-School programs
- Finances: cash assistance, tax credits, home energy assistance
- Nutrition: WIC, free meals for all ages
Please also call us at 212-860-1950 or email us at email@example.com with any unresolved 311 complaints.
Ben in Your Building
The "Ben in Your Building” program is a chance to discuss issues of importance to you and your neighbors in person, in your home. Over the past years, I have visited dozens of buildings to discuss matters of importance in the neighborhood, including street furniture, road conditions, homeless outreach, sanitation issues and you name it. Normally, I would encourage inviting me to your cooperative or condominium annual meeting or tenants association meeting and I would be happy to join you. However, amidst COVID-19 concerns, all meetings will have to be conducted online through video or tele-conferencing. You can still schedule a "Ben in Your Building" today by calling 212-860-1950 or email Scheduler@BenKallos.com.
Help the Homeless
In March, I joined Communities United for Police Reform in an open letter to the Mayor calling on the City to take care of New York City’s homeless population during the COVID-19 outbreak. Read the full letter at Changethenypd.org/protect-homeless-covid-full-letter-cuomo-de-blasio
Back in 2016, I launched the Eastside Task Force for Homeless Outreach and Services (ETHOS) with Borough President Brewer, Senator Krueger, Council Member Garodnick, Department of Social Services (DSS), community and faith leaders and service organizations. We’ve already been able to help a chronically homeless individual in the community who we believe had long been suffering from mental illness, after a resident was willing to come forward working with me, the 19th Precinct, the District Attorney and DSS to get them the help they needed. We hope to get every unsheltered person living on the street the help they need. If you see one of our City’s most vulnerable on the street, please call 311 or use the NYC 311 App (Android/iPhone) to ask them to dispatch a “homeless outreach team.” They will ask where you saw the person, what they looked like, and offer report on whether the person accepts our city’s offer of shelter, three meals a day, health care, rehabilitation, and job training. By connecting our dedicated nonprofits and religious institutions with city services, ETHOS is really making a difference. For more information, visit BenKallos.com/Homelessness