New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Releases

Hundreds of Children to Participate in Virtual Ben Kallos Chess Challenge Tournament

Friday, March 27, 2020

Hundreds of Children to Participate in Virtual Ben Kallos Chess Challenge Tournament


NEW YORK, NY — On Saturday, March 28, over 200 New York City students are expected to participate in the Council Member Ben Kallos Chess Challenge. This annual Chess-in-the-Schools event will be held online for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on daily activity in New York City.

 In an effort to provide those young people with at-home learning and extracurricular activities, Chess in the Schools, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering intellectual and social development among low-income young people through chess education, will hold the virtual chess tournament originally scheduled to take place at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in the Upper East Side. 

 "I love chess and I love computers, what better way to practice ‘social distancing’  than playing chess from home," said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Debbie Eastburn, President, and CEO of Chess in the Schools, for teaching and inspiring students to play chess and for going the extra mile and teaming up to give the children a platform to play online during these tough times. This online chess tournament will go a long way in helping keep children busy and doing something productive while they have to stay indoors. “

Kallos, a chess player and longtime advocate for chess in public school classrooms, made the tournament possible thanks to discretionary funding allocated to Chess in the Schools for fiscal year 2020. This tournament was originally scheduled to take place at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in the Upper East Side. Due to restrictions on crowd size and the need for social distancing, while our city addresses the COVID-19 pandemic; that tournament had to be indefinitely postponed. In consultation with Council Member Kallos’office, Chess in the Schools was able to develop a way to ensure that the over 200 hundred young people looking forward to the tournament would not be stopped by COVID-19.

 "We have long believed that chess is an important part of a young person's education and life, providing lessons that go far beyond the chessboard," said Debbie Eastburn, President and CEO of Chess in the Schools. "Those lessons must not stop simply because coronavirus has fundamentally disrupted our lives, and we must work hard to ensure that these essential opportunities remain for our young people. We thank Council Member Kallos for supporting this tournament and our city's young people, and we are thrilled that the Council Member Ben Kallos Chess Tournament will continue virtually."

The tournament will begin at noon on Saturday, March 28th. Interested participants can register on Chess in the Schools tournament website, where they can select their section based upon ability level and USCF rating. 

 Each online tournament takes about three hours to complete. 


About Chess in the Schools

Since 1986, Chess in the Schools has taught, inspired, and empowered more than 500,000 students in low-income New York City public schools. Through structured classroom, after-school, weekend, and summer programs, Chess in the Schools fosters the intellectual and social development of low-income youth through chess education.

For more information on Chess-in-the-Park, contact Shaun Smith at or 646-688-0725. For more information about Chess in the Schools, contact Debbie Eastburn at or 646-688-0726.

 About Council Member Ben Kallos

New York City Council Member Ben Kallos was praised by the New York Times for his “fresh ideas” and elected in 2013 to represent the Upper East Side, Midtown East, Roosevelt Island and East Harlem along with all 8.6 million New Yorkers in the New York City Council. During the 2014-2017 session as Chair of the Governmental Operations Committee, he sought to root out patronage, de-privatize government, eliminate billions in waste, expand elections, and to use technology to improve access to government. As Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus he has become a leading advocate for education, affordable housing, public health, sustainable development, and transportation improvements and safety. As Chair of the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions, and Concessions from 2017 through 2019 he focused on preserving and building more than 7,000 affordable homes overseeing every deal made by the City to ensure New Yorkers are actually getting the affordable housing they need. Currently, as Chair of the Committee on Contracts, he brings the same scrutiny and tenacity to oversee procurement policies and procedures, government and collection agency contracts, as well as the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services and the Procurement Policy Board. His office is open and transparent, with constituents invited to decide on how to spend one million dollars on local projects in the district as well as to join him in a conversation on the First Friday of each month, or he will go to them for “Ben In Your Building.” For more, visit

Education Equity Campaign Announces 31 of the Students in its Test Prep Programs Accepted to NYC’s Elite High Schools

Friday, March 27, 2020

Education Equity Campaign Announces 31 of the Students in its Test Prep Programs Accepted to NYC’s Elite High Schools


Black and Latino Students in EEC Test Prep were More than 400% More Likely to Gain Admission


With only seven weeks of test prep, EEC helped dozens of disadvantaged students of color secure placements at the Specialized High Schools, including 10% of the African American students entering SHS’s citywide and 20% of those entering Stuyvesant

New York, NY — Today, the Education Equity Campaign (EEC) released the results of its inaugural pilot program aimed at preparing disadvantaged students of color for the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT). Funded by philanthropist Ronald S. Lauder, a Bronx Science graduate, and businessman Richard Parsons, EEC partnered with five education groups to tutor a total of 197 students.

Citywide, 12,422 Black and Latino students sat the SHSAT last year. Of those, 470, or 3.8% were offered admission. In contrast, of the 197 students enrolled in EEC’s 7-week programs, 31 were accepted into a specialized high school, or 15.7%. That means that students of color in EEC programs were more than four times more likely to secure admission.

Of the 190 African American students in the city who were admitted to a specialized high school this year, 20 were students tutored by EEC’s educational partners, including 2 out of the 10 black students who were accepted to Stuyvesant, the most selective of the elite public schools. 

The overall admission numbers to the specialized high schools are a reminder that systemic change is necessary to unlock all kids’ potential, which is why EEC has continued to call on the City to implement free, citywide test prep that runs for at least 12-15 weeks, in addition to expanding the number and capacity of specialized high schools to increase opportunity for all students.

While Black and Latino students make up nearly 70% of NYC public school students, they only account for 10% of admitted students in the City’s specialized high schools; this year follows that same trend. Instead of pursuing policies that would address the root causes of the inequity, the de Blasio administration previously and misguidedly sought to eliminate the SHSAT. However, after NYC parents and students spoke out, the Mayor abandoned his plans to scrap the test.

EEC has continued to advocate for achieving systemic, long-term change in NYC’s education system in addition to creating the tutoring pilot program. The group has partnered with a coalition of state and city legislators to expand access to quality educational opportunities for more students.

Working with a coalition of state and city legislators, advocates, parents and students, EEC helped draft the following legislation, which will bring the city’s school system forward and open opportunities for an unprecedented number of students:

Public Advocate Willliams Join Council Members Cornegy, Kallos and Brannan in Announcing Comprehensive Legislation to Dramatically Improve Equity at New York City’s Specialized High Schools

Thursday, March 19, 2020

New York, NY – Today, a coalition of city elected officials, including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Council Members Robert Cornegy, Ben Kallos and Justin Brannan unveiled bold new legislation aimed at increasing racial equity at NYC’s Specialized High Schools. The legislation would require DOE to finally provide every middle school student with free test preparation. The legislation would also end DOE’s practice of making students register for the SHSAT through a confusing multistep process—and instead automatically register every 8th grader for the SHSAT and asking each of them to take the test.  The legislation would immediately make thousands more Black and Latinx students eligible for admission to a specialized high school.

Currently, fewer than 10% of NYC’ public middle schools provide access to free test prep. The legislation introduced today would ensure test prep is systemwide. In 2019, only 35% of 8th grade public school students sat for the SHSAT. By making the SHSAT the default option for all 8th grade students, today’s legislation would immediately and dramatically increase the number of Black and Latinx students eligible for SHS enrollment every March.

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. The sponsors of today’s legislation are committed to reversing that trend.  The legislation proposed today would directly address this issue by requiring every student—regardless of their income, background, or demographic—be provided the opportunity to succeed.

The Education Equity Campaign led by Ronald Lauder and Richard Parsons has long called for these proposals and provided over $350,000 in free test prep funding in 2019 to prepare hundreds of students of color for the SHSAT.

Public Advocate Williams graduated from the Brooklyn Technical High School starting in 1992 when demographics included 13% Hispanic, 16% White, 32% Asian, and 38% Black, whose Black student population has been in free fall by a factor of five to only 7% as of 2016. Council Member Kallos graduated the Bronx High School of Science starting 1994 when demographics included 10% Hispanic, 12% Black, 38% White, and 40% Asian, whose Hispanic and Black student populations have more than halved to only 9% as of 2017.

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

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 16, 2020

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

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

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

Friday, March 13, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 13, 2020

Statement from Council Member Ben Kallos:

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

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

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

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


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

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

French Dual Language Pre-Kindergarten to Launch on the Upper East Side Response to Demand from Parents and Council Member Ben Kallos

Wednesday, March 11, 2020


Upper East Side, NY- Today the New York City Department of Education and Council Member Ben Kallos announced the creation of two French dual language classes to the Pre-K center located at 355 East 76th Street. Council Member Kallos worked with the Francophone community including immigrants from Canada, Africa, and even France itself to gather more than two hundred families that pledged to send their children to a French dual language program in Manhattan. The classes will open in September 2020 with Pre-K applications for the French dual language classes are now open through March 16, 2020.

The Department of Education will run these classes using a side-by-side instructional model where it will have one Early Childhood certified teacher who is fluent in French, and who has or will have a Bilingual Extension alongside a second Early Childhood certified teacher. Currently the Department of Education is seeking more dual language certified teachers who can apply online and email for information.

“We are pleased to continue expanding our Pre-K Dual Language programs to serve as many children in New York City as possible, and thank Council Member Kallos for his ongoing partnership on early education,” said Josh Wallack Deputy Chancellor, Early Childhood and Student Enrollment

“I hear so many languages spoken in my district from every corner of the world and now we are working with the Francophone community to address a need in the neighborhood as we hope to increase the overall diversity of our schools,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack for his ongoing partnership in expanding early education opportunities, the French Consulate for supporting the Francophone community, and especially to Stephane Lautner and Catherine Remy who worked closely with my office to put meetings together and organize hundreds of other parents.”

Ribbon Cut on $212, 000 Worth of Renovations for Eleanor Roosevelt High School Library & Resource Center

Friday, March 6, 2020

Ribbon Cut on $212, 000 Worth of Renovations for Eleanor Roosevelt High School Library & Resource Center


Upper East Side, NY- Today, parents, school administrators and students were present as Council Member Ben Kallos and Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney cut the ribbon at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, marking the completion of renovations to the school’s Library & Resource Center. The renovations and upgrades are a result of $212,000 in funding provided by Kallos out of his discretionary budget.

The upgrades and renovations include LED lighting, new flooring and technology, and even new podcasting equipment.

Since elected into office, Council Member Kallos has allocated over $549,580 to Eleanor Roosevelt High School to improve everything from technology to infrastructure within the school.

“High school libraries should be modern and welcoming places where students are comfortable and it is easy to learn,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Funding education initiatives has been a priority of mine since I got into office. I am proud to have allocated these funds because I know they will have a positive impact on the students that attend Eleanor Roosevelt High School.”  

Eleanor Roosevelt High School, which, opened in September of 2002 is located at 411 East 76th Street. The school is part of New York City Public School District #2 and currently has over five hundred students and over forty staff members. Congress Member Carolyn Maloney was instrumental in getting the school started along when she led a grassroots effort to secure location and funding.

“As we come together to celebrate the ribbon cutting for the newly renovated Eleanor Roosevelt High School library, I can’t help but remember the day we cut the ribbon to open this school. I was proud of my work to create a new school on the East Side, and I commend Council Member Ben Kallos for his work to allocate the funding this school needs to remain a beacon for academically rigorous public education,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12).

“This new and improved library will benefit generations of students at Eleanor Roosevelt High School for years to come,” School Construction Authority President and CEO Lorraine Grillo said. “On behalf of our entire SCA team, I’d like to thank Council Member Kallos for providing the funds that allowed us to provide students with another tool to enhance their learning, foster their imagination and expand their growth potential.”

“We celebrate these incredible renovations with the community of Eleanor Roosevelt High School and thank Council Member Ben Kallos for making these upgrades possible and for his ongoing support of New York City schools,” said CSA President Mark Cannizzaro. “We’d also like to once again acknowledge Congress Member Maloney’s tremendous efforts to secure funding and resources for the school when it was first opened in September of 2002. Libraries and resource centers continue to serve a critical role in providing a high-quality education to our city’s high school students, and these further investments will no doubt be well-utilized under the leadership of Principal Dimitri Saliani, his administration and staff.”

“We are delighted with these upgrades. Our students will have the opportunity to create their own podcasts as part of these library improvements, which is another proven way to engage them in their own learning and to help them discover their own voice,” said Janella Hinds, Vice President of Academic High Schools at the United Federation of Teachers

"I commend Councilman Ben Kallos for his dedication to the school children of his community. He understands that’s our students need a place that will allow them to grow and be our future leaders “said Shaun D. Francois I President, Local 372.

Bill to Create New Office of Technology Focusing on Digital Services with a Moonshot Division of “Tech Officers” Proposed by Tech Chair Holden and Software Developer Kallos

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Under legislation introduced to the City Council, New York City would create a new technology “moonshot” division complete with its own Chief Technology Officer (CTO) as it follows the likes of Google and President Barack Obama. Legislation authored by Technology Committee Chair Robert Holden and free and open source software developer Council Member Ben Kallos, with co-sponsorship by former Technology Committee Chair Peter Koo, would establish an Office of Technology and Digital Services and create “Technology Officers” (“Tech Officers”) under the auspices of the CTO. The new office would compete for city technology projects, be embedded in city agencies, and work with the CTO to drive down costs, support forward thinking agency technology, and take on moonshot challenges to bring city government into the 21st Century.

“There is virtually no problem that can’t be solved with the use of technology, and our city agencies should constantly be exploring new and innovative ways to simplify and improve services through the use of technology,” said Council Member Robert Holden, Chair of the Committee on Technology and co-author. “Thanks in large part to the software development expertise of my colleague, Ben Kallos, we want tech experts to become a primary resource for this city on every front. The Office of Technology and Digital Services and its Technology Officers will ensure that we are always looking toward a better, more efficient future for New York.” 

“We need to bring city government into the 21st century with tech officers embedded in every agency who can solve old problems by building new technology quickly. New York City’s new Chief Technology Officer can use a platoon of Tech Officers to modernize the government from the inside out to better serve our city.” said Council Member Ben Kallos, a free and open source software developer and co-author. “Chair Robert Holden brings years of teaching at the New York City College of Technology with the vision and legislation we need to upgrade government for the 21st Century.”

Universal Summer Youth Programs Proposed by Council Members Rose and Kallos

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Universal Summer Youth Programs Proposed by

Council Members Rose and Kallos

New York, NY – As summer break approaches, tens of thousands of low-income public school students and their families are relying on Summer Youth Programs to keep them safe, fed, and positively engaged. However, $20 million in funding for Summer Youth Programs serving at least 34,000 middle school students was excluded entirely or in part from the preliminary budgets in Fiscal Years 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016 with funding restored each time by the City Council in the Executive Budget. Legislation co-authored by Youth Service Chair Debi Rose and Council Member Ben Kallos would eliminate proposed budget cuts and mandate Universal Summer Youth Programs.

“Year after year, our summer youth programs are not funded until we come to a final budget agreement in June, leaving parents and providers in a shadow of uncertainty,” said Youth Services Committee Chair Debi Rose. “Summer program are invaluable experiences that build self-esteem, social skills, leadership skills and friendships in a safe, constructive environment. They also help curb summer learning loss, which disproportionately affects students from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is time we build on our successes with early childhood education in the city and give all students seeking a spot in a summer program the opportunity to participate. I am grateful to partner with Council Member Ben Kallos on this legislation, and I look forward to building support from across the Council to pass this bill and make an investment in our future city.”

“Our children need us to take care of them, whether after school or during summer break it doesn’t matter, these children need access to healthy food, enrichment, and positive engagement,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Every year summer youth programs go unfunded in the Mayor’s proposed budget and every year Youth Service Chair Debi Rose leads the way to restore that funding to serve more than 34,000 children. This Universal Summer Youth Programs legislation will finally put an end to the budget dance and put our city on a path to guarantee every child a place to enjoy their summer.”

Access to City Contracting Information Now Available Online and through Public Access Center

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Access to City Contracting Information Now Available Online and through Public Access Center

Watch the Announcement

New York, NY –Now information regarding the City’s  $20 billion in contracts will be available for the public to inspect at an inspection terminal and online via a new public access platform, courtesy of a partnership between Contracts Committee Chair, Ben Kallos, Council Member Brad Lander and the Mayor’s Office of Contracts (MOCS).

A computerized system designed for tracking information within City contracts and vendors doing business with the City, was created by legislation authored by then City Council Contracts Committee Chair, U.S Congress Member Carolyn Maloney.

Local Law 52 of 1987 was enacted as part of the City Council’s effort to ensure that City contracts go only to responsible vendors and that the City obtain the highest quality and quantity of goods and services.

Maloney’s legislation required a public inspection terminal, which has been available for the past 30 years. When Council Member Kallos became Contracts Chair in May of 2019 one of the first issues he championed was upgrading the Public Access Center to retire data from the City’s legacy VENDEX system and replace it with information from PASSPort, the City’s new Procurement and Sourcing Solutions Portal. Council Member Kallos worked with MOCS over the past 9 months to upgrade the Center.   

During that same time, Council Member Kallos also recognized that Local Law 76-2017, which is sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander and requires that the public inspection terminal be available online, would require a similar effort.   Kallos and Lander worked together with MOCS to develop an online platform for accessing information on the City’s contracts, which is now available on the MOCS website. 

Now, every single resident of the City of New York and members of the press can use the new PASSPort terminal at 253 Broadway to access information on City contracts without appointment.

“Capturing and sharing reliable procurement data helps the City make smart, strategic decisions and improves service delivery and outcomes for New Yorkers. PASSPort has already made it easier for over 14,000 vendors to directly file disclosure information. In future releases, PASSPort will fully digitize the procurement process and achieve greater transparency into the process for vendors, agencies, and the public,” said Dan Symon, New York City’s Chief Contracting Officer and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services. “Maintaining this Public Access Center and online viewing platform exemplifies MOCS’ commitment to transparency, efficiency, and the reliability of contracting information relevant to the public.”

Brandon Chiazza, Chief Technology Officer for MOCS, also offered that “The transparency enabled by reports we publish strengthens public confidence in the work we do and helps partners actively engage in efforts to transform procurement.”

“I want to know how every single dollar of taxpayer dollars is being spent and whether it's coming to the public inspection terminal or searching online, every New Yorker has that right,” said Councilmember Ben Kallos, Contracts Committee Chair. “Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and the Mayor's Office of Contract Services Director Dan Symon, for this collaboration and Councilmember Brad lander for this visionary legislation.”

Bringing our public contracts into public view is a critical piece of building trust and accountability in local government. When the public inspection terminal and online database of city contracts go live, individuals, watchdog groups, journalists, and oversight officials will gain new access and insight into how public funds are being spent. This kind of transparency is essential to ensuring both confidence and participation in local democracy,” said Council Member Brad Lander.

“I’ve always believed that transparency and accountability in City contracts is critically important to building trust in local government. That’s why, when I was Chair of the City Council Contract Committee, I authored and passed legislation to track City contracts and vendors. I’m so glad access to City contracts will now be available to the public online, which will undoubtedly increase transparency and encourage civic participation,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12).


  Watch the Announcement

Construction Union, NYC Public Advocate and NICE Call on the New York Construction Alliance to Hold Board Accountable

Thursday, February 6, 2020

NEW YORK, NY – On Wednesday, February 5, 2020, Jumaane Williams (New York City Public Advocate), Ben Kallos (Council Member), Diana Moreno (New Immigrant Community Empowerment), Charlie Uruchima (NY Committee for Occupational Safety & Health), and representatives from the New York State Laborers’ Union today called on the New York Construction Alliance (NYCA) to hold their board member, New Line Structures, accountable for their history of egregious and prolonged worker exploitation.


Thursday, February 6, 2020

Today Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that through executive order his administration will end the purchase of Unnecessary Single-use Plastic Bottles as well as restrict their sale on City property. This executive action puts into effect the goal of my legislation, Introductions 846-2018 and 839-2018, which would ban the sale of single-use plastic bottles in all New York City parks. 

I applaud the de Blasio’s administration efforts through executive action to protect the environment and make sure New York City is working to reduce our City’s use of single-use plastic water bottles as each year Americans disposed of 50 billion plastic water bottles. Now that the Mayor has demonstrated his support look forward to working with him to make this law, and I am calling on the City Council to pass Introductions 846-2018 and 839-2018 and codify this policy.


Wednesday, February 5, 2020



ExpressCare will provide patients with fast
access to walk-in, urgent care seven days a week


The clinic will be the public health system’s first location in Manhattan



(New York, NY—February 3, 2020)   NYC Health + Hospitals today announced the opening of an ExpressCare Clinic at NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan. The clinic will be the public health system’s first location in Manhattan, building on the system’s vision to transform care for New Yorkers in all five boroughs. Providing faster access to medical care for patients with non-life-threatening conditions, the new clinic will be open seven days a week operating from 6pm to midnight on weekdays, and from 10am to midnight on weekends and holidays. The clinic will offer walk-in services for conditions — such as colds, flu, sprains, skin rashes, minor cuts and lacerations, and certain types of infections. Patients who typically use the emergency department for these conditions will find shorter wait times and faster service at the ExpressCare clinic.


Toxic Pesticides Ban in Parks Proposed by New York City Council Members Kallos and Rivera

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Toxic Pesticides Ban in Parks Proposed by New York City
Council Members Kallos and Rivera

Watch the rally with advocates held prior to the hearing

New York, NY— Toxic pesticides would be banned from city parks under a bill being heard today sponsored by Council Members Ben Kallos and Carlina Rivera. The bill would ban all city agencies from spraying highly toxic pesticides, such as glyphosate (Roundup), and be the most far-reaching legislation to implement pesticide-free land practices in New York City parks. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, and the chemical is partially or fully banned in many countries throughout the world.
The City’s most heavily used liquid herbicide is glyphosate, sold as Roundup, which represents over 50% of pesticide use by city agencies and was sprayed 1,365 times in 2013, according to a Health Department Report. In contrast, Chicago has reduced pesticide use dramatically, and now 90% of its parks are pesticide-free since 2014. The use of this pesticide poses a health risk for anyone who frequents city parks and playgrounds, as well as, city workers, including city parks employees who come into contact with glyphosate containing chemicals while spraying.
The bill was introduced on April 18, 2019 and will now be heard in the Committee on Health, after receiving support from a veto-proof supermajority of 34 City Council co-sponsors.
“Parks should be for playing not pesticides,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “All families should be able to enjoy our city parks without having to worry that they are being exposed to toxic pesticides that could give them and their families cancer. As a new parent, my daughter isn’t allowed to play on the grass, especially because as a baby she puts everything in her mouth. I look forward to working with all of our city agencies to ban toxic pesticides and keep our children safe.”

NYCHA tenants move forward with lawsuits against Housing Authority and City after court hearing

Wednesday, January 15, 2020


January 15, 2020

Contact: Loretta Kane (917-410-7242 or 

NYCHA tenants move forward with lawsuits against Housing Authority and City after court hearing

NYCHA agrees to maintain Holmes-Isaacs campus to standards required by law

NEW YORK — Tenants of Holmes Tower and Isaacs Houses of the Upper East Side appeared in Civil Court today in their suit against the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), which was filed in December 2019, for its failure to maintain safe and livable conditions. 

At today’s hearing before Civil Court Judge Daniele Chinea, NYCHA agreed to maintain the building’s systems to the standards required by law including elevator service, heat, hot and cold water, garbage collection, pest management and extermination, front door locks and cleanliness maintenance and lighting of public areas on the Holmes-Isaacs campus. If NYCHA does not follow through on that agreement, residents will be able to take the Housing Authority back to court to ask the court to hold them in contempt. NYCHA did not admit that the buildings have the problems residents listed in their December petition to the court; the judge explained that the court may decide to schedule a full trial to decide the question.

Residents, represented by TakeRoot Justice, held a press conference outside of 111 Centre Street, prior to the hearing, to express the frustrations that led to filing this case. Residents of the two developments have been organizing since 2015.



City Council Holds Hearing on Universal After School

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

City Council Holds Hearing on Universal After School

Hundreds of thousands of children left alone and unsupervised
could finally get necessary after school programs

New York, NY – Universal after school could soon be available for more than 1.1 million public school students in New York City providing academic enrichment, arts, physical activities, and even nutrition if all goes well at a hearing scheduled for Tuesday, January 14, 2020 in the City Council’s Youth Services Committee. Legislation authored by Youth Services Chair Debi Rose, Education Committee Chair Mark Treyger, and Council Member Ben Kallos, Introductions 1100 and 1113 of 2018 would mandate universal after school that would be phased in through an annual plan that would include reporting on implementation and results.
It is far less common for children to have a stay at home parent than a generation ago and far more common for parents to work late with New Yorkers working longer hours than anyone else. This is leaving a gap between school dismissal and when parents are home. In New York there are 584,597 children in K-12 that are left alone and unsupervised with 1,151,361 awaiting an available program, and only 632,076 enrolled in after school according to the Afterschool Alliance. After-school keeps young people positively engaged during the hours of 2 pm to 6 pm when research shows that they are most vulnerable to illicit behavior and criminal justice involvement according to the Council for a Strong America.
“After-school programs provide a safe, stress-free environment for children to receive additional academic and social support while their parents contribute to the necessary economic well-being of their families. These programs have been found to improve student outcomes and provide equity and opportunity by leveling the playing field. This bill makes an investment in the future of our city by ensuring that no child is turned away,” said Youth Services Chair Debi Rose.
“After school programs provide vital learning, enrichment and personal growth opportunities for students. Expanding after school programming to all K-12 students who wish to enroll will keep our children safe, encourage academic achievement and inspire participation in extracurricular activities,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education. “The pair of bills heard today will support students to excel beyond the classroom and deliver kinesthetic learning all year round.”
“Universal access to after school will increase and equalize educational opportunities, keep kids out of the criminal justice system, and make life easier for parents whose jobs keep them at work until at least 5pm, if not longer. As a new parent myself, I rely on an extended day and enrichment activities to keep my daughter busy while my partner and I are working,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs must be satisfied if we want every child to reach their full potential, this means addressing physiological needs with universal breakfast, lunch, snack, and supper, safety needs with child health plus, and finally love, belonging, and esteem through universal after school. I want to wake up in a city where every child has the love and self-esteem they need to grow up to their full potential.”

"Universal after-school programming would provide New York City students with a safe, supportive environment where they could engage in additional academic and extracurricular activities. Working families would no longer have to pay for after-school out of pocket or worry about having their children home alone," said Council Member Diana Ayala, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “As a working mother who has relied on after-school throughout my career, I wholeheartedly support this legislation and look forward to working alongside my colleagues to ensure a successful passage."

"Parents shouldn't have to sacrifice their childcare duties to preserve their jobs, yet too often they're pitted against each other because of prohibitive after school costs," said Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22. "As the working challenges of New York City change, it's on us to deliver the vital services all of our citizens deserve.  I'm proud to support my friend and colleague Ben Kallos in securing universal after school." 

Council Member Ben Kallos Hosts Winter Festival Storytime at 67th Street Library to Celebrate Recent Reopening Following $2.5 Million Rehabilitation

Friday, January 3, 2020

Council Member Ben Kallos Hosts Winter Festival Storytime at 67th Street Library to Celebrate Recent Reopening Following $2.5 Million Rehabilitation

Upper East Side, NY – Children, parents, seniors, librarians, and residents joined Council Member Ben Kallos at the 67th Street branch of The New York Public Library for a winter festival and storytime celebrating the November reopening of the building after $2.5 million in repairs. The facility was closed to receive $2.5 million in capital improvements including needed repairs to its roof and upgrades to the HVAC system for the 114-year-old building.
$1.5 million was allocated in June 2018 by Speaker Corey Johnson following a request by Council Member Kallos. The remaining $1 million in funding was provided by the Mayor’s office as part of a citywide investment in libraries supported by the City Council.
That same year, the 67th Street Library also received a portion of $200,000 allocated by Council Member Ben Kallos through Participatory Budgeting for technology upgrades to all three of Council District 5 Library branches.


Wednesday, January 1, 2020


Anonymous Donor funds new facility as tens of thousands of New Yorkers face cutoff from benefits

NEW YORK – January 1st, 2020 - With deep cuts looming to the federal food stamp program for tens of thousands of New York families, the Bronx Parent Housing Network, Inc. (BPHN) on New Year’s Day opened the BPHN Loving Arms Soup Kitchen on the Upper East Side to help feed the growing number of hungry and homeless New Yorkers. The facility has been funded by an anonymous donor.

“Wall Street might be breaking records, but there are hungry people in New York, and the situation is threatening to get even worse,” said Victor M. Rivera, President and Chief Executive Officer of BPHN, once a homeless man himself.

Many of the facility’s customers are not homeless, but rather are New Yorkers contending with food insecurity due to the high cost of living, which often forces them to choose between eating and paying for their other expenses.