As we celebrate our nation’s independence, I am more grateful for the liberty guaranteed by freedom of speech than ever before.
Covid-19 has claimed the lives of over 21,000 New Yorkers and blown a multi-billion dollar hole in the City’s budget. I opposed Mayor de Blasio’s doomsday budget that zeroed out services for youth, families, and seniors. As you may have read in the Daily News, I proposed saving millions by writing our own culturally responsive textbooks and trimming $15 billion in fat from the budget to fund essential services.
Residents have been marching in our streets and over 125,000 New Yorkers emailed me since the murder of George Floyd, demanding that we #DefundNYPD by $1 billion. As a member of a Council that made the mistake of adding 1,300 police officers and increasing the NYPD budget by a billion dollars, it is our responsibility to right that wrong. Though we outlawed the chokehold, I am disappointment in a budget that failed to achieve the $1 billion without resorting to accounting tricks. Instead of making these cuts, we were forced to cut more heavily from schools, libraries, and the composting program. This budget continues to invest in policing our children instead of taking care of them, which is why I voted NO.
We continue to move forward with Phase 3 reopening, although indoor dining has been postponed, personal care businesses are opening along with outdoor recreational spaces from basketball courts to dog runs. All this is dependent on social distancing, wearing face coverings, and everybody getting tested, which is why we brought mobile testing to Roosevelt Island and continue to partner with buildings and neighborhood associations to distribute free face masks.
Please be sure to apply for one of 300 affordable apartments on Roosevelt Island by July 6, as we break the 1,000 mark for affordable units built or preserved in my district. As you may have read in the New York Times, this summer we will see 2,500 affordable homes come back on the market thanks to a law I authored to bring existing hundreds of thousands of units of affordable housing back for new applicants that I hope will increase affordable housing by as much as 50%. We also won our third rent freeze for 1.1 million rent regulated tenants.
Last but not least, after 8 years of advocacy, I finally made good on one of my earliest campaign promises to bring bike share to Roosevelt Island, so take a visit by tram, ferry, or a quick transfer off the Q.
Council Member, District 5
P.S. In celebration of the 4th of July holiday observed on Friday, July 3rd, the next First Friday will be held on Friday, August 7th.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
(If you experience trouble with the links below, read in your browser)
- Hundreds of Thousands of Affordable Housing Units Coming Online Thanks to My Law
- Tenants’ Rights Town Hall and How We Won Our 3rd Rent Freeze
- Apply for 300+ Affordable Apartment on Roosevelt Island by July 6
- Legacy of George Floyd and Why I Voted Against this Budget
- City Council Passes Police Reform Package
- Town Hall with Speaker Johnson on #DefundNYPD & Justice Reform
- Phase Three Reopening without Indoor Dining in July
- Phase Two of Reopening in June
- Warning the Nation on Fox News
- Bringing Free Mobile Covid-19 Testing to Roosevelt Island
- Supporting Non-Profits Providing Essential Services Through the Pandemic
- Distributing Face Masks and Bagged Produce with Community Partners
- Citi Bike Arrives on Roosevelt Island
- State Legalization of eBikes and eScooters Goes into Effect for NYC
EDUCATION & YOUTH
- Daily News Op-Ed: Save $84 Million a Year by Writing Our Own Textbooks
- Parenting During the Pandemic
- Dual Language Education - We Won Dual Language French Pre-K, Now on to K-5 and More Languages
- Funding Summer Youth Programs
- Open Restaurants Map
- Domestic Violence Text Line
- Shoe Drive by Soles4Souls
- Cancer Support for Women
- NYU Langone Health’s Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias Family Support Program
Trimming $15 Billion in Fat Proposed to Invest $800 Million in Essential Services
In a recent letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, I identified more than $15 billion in possible cuts and savings for the city budget, including $10 billion that could be gained by ending deals with and exemptions for developers, as the New York Daily News reported.
In the letter, I suggested the following as areas for potential savings in the City’s budget:
- Recover billions in real estate tax exemptions from developers who broke their promises ($10 billion, $5 billion in tax revenue and $5 billion in savings)
- Recoup funds from emergency pandemic procurements ($2.5 billion in potential savings)
- Recognize heat, light, and power savings ($176 million in potential savings)
- Recognize savings from reductions in sanitation and snow to save composting (potential savings of $126 million and spending of $24.5 million for net potential savings of $101.5)
- Recognize savings from canceled and reduced demand on city services ($84.5 million in potential savings)
I also suggested eliminating wasteful spending by:
- Defunding the NYPD and reinvest the savings in communities harmed by over-policing ($1 billion in savings)
- Not registering non-essential pending contracts ($1 billion in potential savings)
- Cutting consulting contracts and bring the work in-house ($375 million in potential savings)
- Stopping the use of racist materials in the classroom by dropping white-centric and eurocentric textbooks in favor of free open education resources ($84 million in potential savings)
If you or someone you know has a tip on an unnecessary or excessive city contract, please email Contracts@BenKallos.com.
To read my full letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, visit BenKallos.com/press-release or read coverage in the New York Daily News.
Hundreds of Thousands of Affordable Housing Units Coming Online Thanks to My Law
As the New York Times recently covered, an estimated 2,500 apartments will be up for re-rental on the NYC Housing Connect website in the coming months thanks to a law I authored to require past rentals to return to the City’s lottery. Coupled with new units being added, the recent upgrades, which include a new and improved Housing Connect website, will increase the affordable housing available to New Yorkers by at least 50%, if not more.
This comes after years of working and passing laws that expand access to affordable housing. A 1993 decision by New York State to eliminate penalties on landlords for failing to register allowed thousands of building owners to ignore the law for years and charge rents above the legal limit. According to a 2015 investigation by ProPublica, owners of 15,000 buildings in New York City that received more than $100 million in property tax reductions in exchange for building affordable units illegally failed to register with the state’s Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DCHR), estimating the unregistered units in those buildings at 50,000.
In December 2015, under legislation I authored with Manhattan Borough President Brewer and new Public Advocate Williams, landlords who received over $1 billion in government subsidies and tax breaks as well as all owners of existing rent-regulated or other affordable housing across federal, state, and city programs became required to register each unit of housing with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). Regular monitoring and enforcement would be followed by steep penalties for owners who fail to register.
Though the City Council has made strides in opening up more affordable housing units to more people, my office will continue working to expand accessibility. To learn more about applying for affordable housing, visit the NYC Housing Connect site.
Tenants’ Rights Town Hall and How We Won Our 3rd Rent Freeze
For the sixth consecutive year, I have rallied, authored sign-on letters, testified and advocated for the Rent Guidelines Board to vote in favor of a rent rollback. Over this time, we have supported the Rent Justice Coalition, Urban Justice Center and Met Council on Housing and led fellow elected officials in securing two consecutive rent freezes and historically low increases in the other years.
At the start of June, I held a Tenants’ Rights Town Hall to teach residents about pandemic eviction protections, exemptions from rent increases for seniors and the disabled, how to fight rent increases on stabilized apartments and win a rent freeze, and to have their submitted questions answered by attorneys.
Thank you to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Senators Liz Krueger, Brian Kavanagh and Brad Hoylman, Assembly Members Rebecca Seawright, Harvey Epstein, Dan Quart, Richard Gottfried and Robert Rodriguez, and Council Members Carlina Rivera, Keith Powers and Diana Ayala for joining me for this educational forum. Watch the town hall at Youtube.com.
The pain and hardship tenants have faced since the Covid-19 pandemic began to cripple New York City and its economy is undeniable. That’s why at the New York City Rent Guidelines Board’s (RGB) Public Hearing on June 10th, I gave a testimony on the need for rent relief and called for it in the form of a rent rollback (-2% for one-year leases and -1% for two-year leases).
One week later, the Rent Guidelines Board voted in favor of a rent freeze for one-year leases and, for the first time ever, two-year leases (with a freeze on the first year and 1% increase on the second year). Although we did not win a rent rollback, I’m glad we were able to win a rent freeze for nearly 1 million of the city’s rent-stabilized apartments.
I want to thank TakeRoot Justice, the Rent Justice Coalition, Tenants and Neighbors, Met Council on Housing, and all of the organizations that have rallied alongside me to get this done. Read my full testimony at BenKallos.com/press-release
Apply for 300+ Affordable Apartments on Roosevelt Island by July 6
I’m proud to announce 313 new affordable apartments on Roosevelt Island open for applications due July 6. As you may have read in Patch, half of the apartments will go to current residents of Community Board 8 who live between 59th and 96th Streets from 5th Avenue to the East River (and Roosevelt Island).
On Tuesday, June 30th, I hosted an announcement and information session with Hudson Related to educate the public on how to apply by the July 6th deadline. The River Walk Park units are available for qualifying New Yorkers earning 40, 50, 80, 130, and 165 percent of the area median income corresponding to incomes as low as $20,298 for a one-person household to as high as $187,605 for a family of four. Rent for these apartments ranges from $506/month for a studio to $3,432/month for a three-bedroom apartment.
Over the years I have supported the construction or preservation of more than 1,000 units of affordable housing. Last year, we preserved more than 600 affordable apartments at Roosevelt Landings. In addition, we cut the ribbon on 28-units of affordable housing along with a Preschool at 1768 Second Avenue across the street from my office. In 2018, we cut the ribbon on three new affordable housing developments in my district for a total of 49 new apartments, including two supportive housing buildings for the formerly homeless, one of which is for women and children, built across the street from where I live.
For more information, read the press release at BenKallos.com/Press-release or see coverage by Patch, and don't forget to apply at LiveRiverWalkPark.com.
Legacy of George Floyd and Why I Voted Against this Budget
Coronavirus has claimed the lives of over 21,000 New Yorkers, magnified systemic racism, and blown a 9 billion dollar hole in our city’s budget.
The Mayor’s proposed budget left the NYPD budget largely intact while zeroing out services for youth, families and seniors, a budget that would rather invest in policing our children than caring for them. The city budget has grown by $24 billion under this administration and we’ve missed an opportunity to trim more than $15 billion in fat. Before eliminating jobs and essential services, we should cut billions in corporate welfare that goes to a handful of our nation’s wealthiest corporations.
New Yorkers took to the streets in the name of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter to demand that we Defund NYPD by $1 billion to invest in communities harmed by over-policing. Since then, my office has received over 125,000 emails and thousands of calls.
As a person benefiting from white privilege, it is my responsibility to use that privilege to empower New Yorkers from all communities, particularly voices of color, black voices, and listen when they demand that we Defund NYPD. As a member of a Council that made the mistake of adding 1,300 police officers and increasing the NYPD budget by a billion dollars, it is our responsibility to right that wrong. When the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus Members led our body in a bold statement with Speaker Johnson supporting cuts of at least 1 billion dollars this year, the Progressive Caucus, which I co-chair, stood in solidarity.
The cuts we voted on depended on a half-billion-dollar transfer of school safety agents from the NYPD to the Public Schools budget, a move that seems like an accounting trick.
I join the Speaker and so many of my colleagues on the Budget Negotiating Team who fought so hard -- in their disappointment in a budget that fails to achieve our initial proposal.
That is not the transformative change of the NYPD that New Yorkers are demanding.
So, I voted NO on the budget and voted yes on all other matters.
You can share my floor statement in its entirety at BenKallos.com/press-releases, my initial statement on Medium, as well as coverage in the New York Times, City and State, New York Post, and Pix 11 to learn more about my stance regarding why I voted no.
City Council Passes Police Reform Package
In mid-June, the New York City Council took its first steps towards police reform by passing a package of legislation that included a ban on chokeholds and kneeling on a person's neck. I ran for office inspired by now Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who authored the "Right to Know Act" and even signed a motion to discharge in order to pass it last term. More needed to be done and the City Council should have acted sooner on many of these bills that I sponsored last term and sponsored again this term. Thanks to those of you who have taken to the streets and the over one hundred thousand who have sent emails, we were able to take these first steps as we continue to move forward with defunding NYPD in favor of investing in our children and communities.
The legislation that I co-sponsored and passed includes:
- The Right to Record (Introduction No. 721-B) by Public Advocate Williams codifies your right to film police activities, prohibit interference or threats to those recording, and provide a private right of action.
- Ban on Chokeholds (Introduction No. 536-B) bans and criminalizes the use of restraints that restrict the flow of air or blood by compressing another individual’s windpipe or arteries on the neck, or by putting pressure on the back or chest, by police officer making an arrest. This would cover chokeholds, as well as maneuvers like placing a knee on a person’s neck. Any officer found guilty of using such a restraint could be found guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
- Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act (Introduction No. 487-A), would provide civilian oversight for surveillance technologies used by the New York Police Department (NYPD). The Department would be required to issue a surveillance impact and use policy about these technologies, including a description and capabilities, rules, processes and guidelines, and any safeguards and security measures designed to protect information collected.
- Display of Badge Numbers (Introduction No. 1962-A) requires officers to display their shield number or rank designation at all times when the officer is performing their duties with private right of action if an officer refuses.
- Disciplinary Matrix (Introduction No. 1309-B) creates a “disciplinary matrix” with a recommended range of penalties for each type of violation.
- Early Intervention (Introduction No. 760-B) expands categories of information included in the NYPD Early Intervention System to include information on types of arrests, incidents of excessive force, and ongoing disciplinary proceedings.
- Supporting the Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act of 2019 (H.R. 4408) (Resolution T2020-6256) urging the United States Congress to pass The Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act of 2019 (H.R. 4408) sponsored by U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries. If made law, this bill would make the use of chokeholds a civil rights violation. This would enable federal authorities to hold accountable police officers who use the deadly technique.
Town Hall with Speaker Johnson on #DefundNYPD & Justice Reform
In the Community Conversation my office hosted with Speaker Corey Johnson, he answered questions about improving housing standards across the city, defunding NYPD and other ways to fill the $10 billion budget gap created by Covid-19, and the fight to restore youth funding in this budget. Join the conversation on Facebook or watch on Youtube.com.
Phase Three Reopening without Indoor Dining in July
Phase 3 of New York City’s reopening will begin on Monday, July 6th without indoor dining.
As a result of the nation’s skyrocketing infection rates, Mayor de Blasio has decided to postpone indoor dining indefinitely as the new infections around the country seem to be tied to bars and restaurants.
Phase three will reopen personal care services such as nail salons, waxing, massage, spas, etc. Additional outdoor recreation spaces, including tennis, basketball, handball courts and dog runs, as well as indoor gatherings of up to 25 people will all be permitted. The state has outlined a set of mandatory and best practices for each industry set to reopen, available at Forward.NY.gov/phase-three-industries
As this reopening moves forward, the key to its success will be testing for Covid-19. At this point, all New Yorkers should be getting tested regardless of whether they have symptoms. I encourage everyone to please go get your free test.
Phase Two of Reopening in June
Phase 2 of New York City’s reopening began on Monday, June 22, clearing the way for restaurants and bars to offer outdoor dining and for professional services, office-based jobs, real estate rental/leasing, in-store retail, hair salons, and barbershops to re-open. In the first week, more than 300,000 New Yorkers returned to work.
The state has outlined a set of mandatory and best practices for each industry set to reopen, which are as follows:
- Office-Based Work
- Outdoor and Take-Out/Delivery Food Services
- Essential and In-Store Retail
- Hair Salons and Barber Shops
- Real Estate
- Vehicle Sales, Leases and Rentals
- Retail Rental, Repair, and Cleaning
- Commercial Building Management
The City is working with community groups to find more spaces for new seating counting on more Open Streets coming in July. Business owners are encouraged to call 1-888-SBS-4NYC for general questions on seating and the rules. Restaurants can work with their local BID and the New York City Department of Transportation to request additional seating in plazas reaching out to Plazas@dot.nyc.gov with copy to Coronavirus@BenKallos.com.
As this reopening moves forward, the key to its success will be testing for Covid-19. Please go get your free test.
Warning the Nation on Fox News
Last month, I spoke to Fox News about how we are navigating Phase Two of reopening here in New York City. Although the hope is that the data and guidance of experts will lead us through a safe reopening while protecting the lives of the vulnerable, I recognize that flu season is around the corner and a resurgence is possible. In the event that we do see a spike, the city maintains the option to move back a phase rather than having to shut down again. Still, moving slowly through the phases remains the safest plan.
In early April, when social distancing was still new to us, Fox News had me on to talk about the local response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I warned the national audience about the dangers of not following stay-at-home orders and urged them to embrace social distancing early, before it became too late and their locality became another hotspot.
I also covered the latest from Chancellor Carranza on schools and addressed parents’ concerns about whether day camp services will be returning. Thank you to Mike Coffman, Mayor of Aurora, Colorado, for joining me on the program and sharing his experience with the reopening of his city. Watch the interview at BenKallos.com/videos.
Bringing Free Mobile Covid-19 Testing to Roosevelt Island
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, residents have reached out seeking access to testing. Prior to the pandemic the only urgent care on Roosevelt Island closed and my office has been working ever since with NYC Health + Hospitals and Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation to bring Covid-19 testing to Roosevelt Island for free. The mobile testing site will be available under the Motorgate Helix from Monday, June 29 to Friday, July 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a capacity to conduct 80 Covid-19 diagnostic nasal swab tests per day. Residents age 65 and over will be provided a separate line to access testing. There is no RSVP required: care will be provided on a first come first serve basis. While patients with insurance will be asked for their insurance information, the test will be provided regardless of citizenship or insurance status with no out-of-pocket fees or copays - free.
I encourage all New Yorkers to get a Covid-19 swab test. Testing leads to quick identification and quick treatment of the virus, which lowers the chance of fatality and of spreading the virus unknowingly. So, for your safety and the safety of those around you, please get a free test. Learn more from the release at BenKallos.com/press-release or read coverage in the Roosevelt Islander.
Supporting Non-Profits Providing Essential Services Through the Pandemic
As reported by NYN Media, the Covid-19 shutdown and looming budget cuts have posed major challenges to non-profits who are providing essential services to New Yorkers before, during, and after the pandemic. Early in the pandemic, these groups did not know if they were deemed “essential” and were given conflicting directions from the City. Youth and senior services non-profits who had received a letter saying they were essential then saw their services cut with no more than a couple of hours’ notice.
As chair of the City Council’s Contracts Committee, I co-chaired a hearing with Council Members Deborah Rose and Margaret Chin on how we can support the non-profits who provide food, homeless outreach, legal counsel, and other key services to New Yorkers. At the hearing, we heard from dozens of non-profits who shared their frustration and called for full funding in the budget as well as clear guidelines. Senior and neighborhood centers also asked the City to work with them so they can help deliver food and services to their local communities where they know people by name, rather than fully contracting meal delivery services out to caterers. This budget required substantial cuts, but in order for New York City to recover and protect its most vulnerable residents, those cuts should not be focused on non-profits delivering essential services. Read more about the hearing in NYN Media.
Distributing Face Masks and Bagged Produce with Community Partners
In response to an initial lack of sites available on the East Side, my office partnered with the Holmes-Isaacs Coalition, the Carter Burden Center for the Aging and the Urban Outreach Center to distribute free face coverings to those who need them most.
Community Mask Distributions
Community partners will be distributing FREE face coverings provided by my office to those who need them most. Face coverings are available for essential workers and residents who need them to stay safe.
If you or someone you know is in need of a mask, you can pick them up at the following locations in the district (during their hours of operation):
- Stanley Isaacs – Tuesday, July 7th, 11:15am–12:15pm, 415 East 93rd Street in the Courtyard (Bring your own small bottle for a free hand sanitizer refill as well)
- East 86th Street Neighborhood Association –Tuesday, July 7th, 11:30am–12:30pm, 86th St. and 2nd Ave, NE corner
- East 79th Street Neighborhood Association – Please write to the neighborhood association at the address below and they will drop off the masks to your lobby:
- P.O Box 20052
- Cherokee Station New York, NY 10021-10060
- Carnegie Hill Neighbors – Wednesdays through July, 12:00pm–3:00pm, 1326 Madison Ave
- Lexington Houses – Wednesday, July 8th, 4:30pm–5:30pm, 1536 Lexington Avenue (Bring your own small bottle for a free hand sanitizer refill as well)
If needed, more than one mask can be provided upon request.
Please contact us if you would like to be building captain, meaning we will drop masks off at your building for you to distribute to your neighbors.
See a map of all of the City’s food distribution sites at NYC.gov/site/coronavirus/resources/facecoverings.page
Pushing for Vote by Mail Following Board of Election's Failure to Meet Absentee Ballot Requests
Now that New York City has had its first post-Covid election, issues of voter suppression and disenfranchisement have resurfaced and further accentuated the need to fully implement vote by mail. I spoke about these issues in an op-ed recently published to Medium, “Missed Your Chance to Vote by Mail? Vote Early in N.Y. through Sunday.”
When it comes to the practical hurdles that render an individual unable to ultimately cast a valid ballot, it matters less whether the hindrance is caused by manmade or natural events; by garden-variety software glitches or by the historical disruptions we now recognize Superstorm Sandy and the present Pandemic illness to be. Indeed, a multitude of logistical factors can jeopardize one’s ability to vote, but none of them should render the right to participate in our democracy illusory. Read the full op-Ed at Medium.com/@BenKallos or see coverage on this topic by the New York Daily News.
Citi Bike Arrives on Roosevelt Island
Citi Bike is officially on Roosevelt Island with 4 brand new stations housing 74 bikes, as the bike share program expands to serve the Island’s residents for the first time. In 2014, there were more requests for Citi Bike in Roosevelt Island’s zip code than anywhere else in New York City, with a bikeshare pilot dating back to 2010. After years spent working with Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation and Citi Bike (now operated by Lyft) to finally get wheels down, I’m happy to have fulfilled what was an initial campaign promise of mine. For more details, read the press release at BenKallos.com/press-release. You can also watch the official announcement and press conference at BenKallos.com/videos
State Legalization of eBikes and eScooters Goes into Effect for NYC
During the pandemic, Governor Cuomo and the State legislature legalized ebikes and escooters subject to municipal action. Following the State law, the New York City Council legalized eikes and escooters in bike lanes as well as escooter shares outside Manhattan. Top speeds will be limited to 25 mph for ebikes and 20 mph for escooters. Both bikes and ebikes must still obey all traffic laws including red lights, yielding to pedestrians, and staying off sidewalks.
Over the past five years, a bike safety program I launched in 2014 combined with Vision Zero, have made it safer to be a pedestrian or cyclist today with fewer injuries than before. The program include infrastructure changes such as bike lanes, training for commercial cyclists, helmet giveaways, and enforcement by the NYPD by a new bike safety officer. Last year the 17th and 19th precincts covering East Midtown and the Upper East Side issued 1,749 summons to bicycles as well as 18,134 moving violations to vehicles. That same year Mayor de Blasio rolled out a similar plan citywide.
As the City gears up to deal with these new laws my office is committed ensuring pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists can all share the road safely.
EDUCATION & YOUTH
Daily News Op-Ed: Save $84 Million a Year by Writing Our Own Textbooks
Facing $800 million in proposed cuts to public schools, New York City is slated to continue spending $84 million a year on textbooks. That number is staggering, especially given that many of the textbooks are older than the teachers using them, largely Eurocentric and in some cases dictated by partisan politics. We can make these learning materials more reflective of New York City’s diversity and put limited resources to better use by adopting open textbooks.
More commonly known as “open educational resources” (OER), open textbooks are free for educators to use, customize to their students’ needs and backgrounds and share with others. Open textbooks are freely available from nonprofit groups like CK12, OER Commons and OpenStax, and many are peer-reviewed and vetted for quality.
As New York City cuts its budget to adjust to declining tax revenues, we can achieve real savings and significant improvements for our students and teachers at the same time. New York City should take advantage of free, high-quality open textbooks and move toward more culturally responsive, adaptable and digital learning that will help all of our students succeed, no matter their zip code, gender, or the color of their skin.
Read the full piece that authored with Clayton Banks co-founder of Silicon Harlem in the New York Daily News.
Parenting During the Pandemic
As a parent I was proud to host a panel on Parenting During the Pandemic Town Hall that brought together a team of experts to discuss the concerns that many families everywhere are facing during the pandemic. Cope with School NYC discussed how to better mentally support yourself and your family, 92nd Street Y Parenting Center provided tips for reducing screen time and creating a routine for nursery to middle school, a representative from the Deptartment of Education addressed recent changes to the grading and admissions process, and Educators shared tips on how to keep children engaged. You can watch at BenKallos.com/videos
Dual Language Education – We Won Dual Language French Pre-K, Now on to K-5 and More Languages
In early June, I joined the Community Education Council of District 2 and a representative from the New York City Department of Education to discuss the needs of the multilingual community in Manhattan. We set our sights on bringing French dual language programming to grades K-5 and on introducing programming for other languages like Mandarin.
Back in April, I announced that a French dual-language program with two classes will officially be offered at the East 76th Street Pre-Kindergarten Center on the Upper East Side in time for fall 2020. 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, members of the Francophone community like Fabrice Jaumont and Stephane Lautner, and more than two hundred families who signed our petition pledging to send their children to a French dual-language program in Manhattan.
Securing French dual language programming on the Upper East Side was the first step on the path toward recognizing and meeting the needs of multilingual families across the city. Given the success we saw in April I have no doubt that with continued support from my office and multilingual and education communities, we can make these ideas a reality.
If you are interested in bringing other dual language programs to Upper East Side schools, email BKallos@BenKallos.com. For more information on the initial rollout, visit BenKallos.com/press-releases
Funding Summer Youth Programs
Last month, I joined youth leaders from all over our city and the Campaign for Children to rally for Youth Jobs, Summer Camp and After-school.
Open Restaurants Map
The NYC Department of Transportation's Open Restaurants Map and dashboard is now live. With this tool, restaurants and info on their available services will appear in the database as owners self-certify. Users can view open restaurants by borough or zip code.
New York City created the Open Restaurants Program to support the restaurant industry as it recovers, but the safety of diners, restaurant employees, and other street users is paramount.
Please note that you may need to clear your browser history for the portal to load.
Domestic Violence Text Line
Met Council recently launched a secure Domestic Violence text line. Text 917-540-0225 to be connected to a Master's level social worker ready to help. With the new app, a text sent from a cell phone or smartphone will automatically disappear, making it impossible for an abuser to trace it.
You can also call Met Council's Domestic Violence hotline at 212-453-9618. Met Council's Family Violence Program has expanded it's helpline hours from 8 AM through Midnight on Sunday - Thursday and 9 AM - 5 PM on Friday to support the unprecedented need during this time.
Shoe Drive by Soles4Souls
When someone doesn't have shoes, it's not just their feet that suffer. They are vulnerable to disease and often unable to attend school or look for work. Shoes are lifesavers for those whom walking is the only mode of transportation and the only way to make a living. Everyone deserves a good pair of shoes! Help reach a goal of 25,000 pairs of shoes to benefit Soles4Souls! Soles4Souls has distributed over 30 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries with every single one making a difference in the life of someone in need.
Look in your closets and donate any shoes that you just don’t wear anymore, are too uncomfortable, or just not your type to keep them out of landfills. As long as they are wearable, they are accepted: any type of shoe, from flip-flops to snow boots. Check out https://soles4souls.org/
For any questions, please contact Rayna, Volunteer NYC Community Organizer for Soles4Souls, at Raynas4s.email@example.com or 917-744-5794.
Cancer Support for Women
SHARE continues to provide free, peer support to women with breast and ovarian cancer in 29 languages through our helplines at 844-ASK-SHARE. They have also moved all support groups and education programs online, and have added new programs to provide women facing cancer with information they need about COVID-19. More detailed information about all of our programs can be found at our website, www.sharecancersupport.org.
They have also launched a new initiative for women with uterine cancer including a helpline, support groups, and education programs. Uterine cancer disproportionately affects Black women, and one of the support groups is specifically for women of African descent.
NYU Langone Health’s Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias Family Support Program
Are you caring for a family member with memory and thinking problems? Caregiving during COVID-19 presents unique difficulties for families.
The NYU Langone Family Support Program is here to help you navigate through the challenges of caregiving. We provide a quick, personal response. All of our services are free and available online and by phone.
Our services include:
- Individual and family care consultations
- Resource information
- Caregiver support groups
- Home activity programs for people with memory loss
- Programs that people with memory loss and family caregivers can attend together
- Caregiver education webinars
- Special assistance fund for respite
This program is supported by a grant from the New York State Department of Health and is available to all New York City residents.
Call us at 646-754-2277 or visit NYUlangone.org/memorydisordersupport
Additionally, in July, the Medicare Rights Center is continuing to host virtual Medicare Minute presentations to help New Yorkers with Medicare and their caregivers stay connected during the coronavirus public health emergency.
If you think this is something Medicare beneficiaries in your districts may be interested in, please forward the following information and attached flier to your mailing lists. Note that these presentations are not Medicare training sessions for professionals. They are intended for a beneficiary audience and the content will only be about Medicare basics. The next event, Medicare Coverage of Skilled Nursing Facility Care, is planned for Thursday, July 16th at 3:30pm. For more information, visit medicarerights.org
Free Legal Clinics
Need a lawyer? Every month I sponsor legal clinics where you can get free legal advice. These clinics usually take place at my District Office, but have been temporarily moved online due to Covid-19. Appointments take place 2pm – 6pm:
- General Civil Law, By Appointment Only
- Life Planning Clinic, 3rd Wednesday
- Family Law and Domestic Violence, 1st Tuesday
- Housing Clinics, Mondays and Wednesdays
Please call my office at 212-860-1950 or email ConstituentService@benkallos.com with the subject ‘Requesting Legal Clinic’ to make appointments to meet 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with any unresolved 311 complaints.
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