New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

PIX11

PIX11 School bus fails to show up; leaves children with special needs stranded by Magee Hickey

School bus fails to show up; leaves children with special needs stranded

NEW YORK — Lainie Gutterman has two children with special needs who rely on City Department of Education buses to take them to their special-needs school on Long Island.

But she got a text message from her bus driver that said: “There was a mechanical error, no bus today, bus running again on Monday.”

PIX11 New bus app tracker rolling out in NYC by kala Rama

New bus app tracker rolling out in NYC

An app for the 9,000 bus routes going to and from schools across New York City was just rolled out.

“We’ll have GPS in every bus on the first day of school, and through our partnership with Via, we’ll soon have a state-of-the-art app for families to track buses and get real-time automatic updates,” said Schools Chancellor Richard  Carranza. “We are grateful for the City Council's advocacy, leadership and partnership. Safe and reliable transportation is critical for all families, and we’re committed to getting it right this year.”

The app will feature updates on bus location, student ridership, route changes and vehicle delays.

PIX11 ‘It’s not fiction, it’s a horror story’: LES residents living in tiny apartment halfway between floors by Maggie Hickey

‘It’s not fiction, it’s a horror story’: LES residents living in tiny apartment halfway between floors

“I’m concerned for the safety of the tenants, mostly an immigrant population, Ben Kallos, a NYC Council Member, told PIX11 News. “Part of me thinks this is like the movie 'Being John Malkovich,' back in the 1990s. Then there was this idea of creating a floor in between. But that was fiction and this is a horror story,” he added.

The Buildings Department issued a vacate order for apartment 601 and the apartment right above, 701. You can even see from the outside of the building the many air conditioners and boarded up windows in the two apartments.

PIX11 Cyclists celebrate 2nd Avenue bike lane by BY ALICIA NIEVES

Cyclists celebrate 2nd Avenue bike lane

Bike lane advocates and local leaders gathered along 59th Street and 2nd Avenue Friday afternoon for a ribbon cutting and celebration.

The Department of Transportation has added a new protected bike lane along a new stretch of second avenue. That includes a lane by the entrance of the Queensboro bridge.

PIX11 Pictures of art structure at Hudson Yards become subject of controversy by GREG MOCKER

Pictures of art structure at Hudson Yards become subject of controversy

NYC Councilmember Ben Kallos, from the Upper East Side, said he planned to introduce legislation to make sure that tourists' photos and videos "are not taken and sold to the highest bidder."

"Security cameras can help keep us safe, but storing footage for marketing is a nightmare," Kallos said. He suggested that if photo-use policies similar to the Vessel's are in place elsewhere the Council should examine that as well.

Social media companies also have terms and conditions that grant permissions for use to the company.Purchasing a ticket for many other attractions and events also gives consent for photography.

PIX11 New proposal for school bus cameras aimed at catching drivers who ignore safety regulations by Associated Press

New proposal for school bus cameras aimed at catching drivers who ignore safety regulations

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Police are looking for at least two drivers in Brooklyn who were caught on camera driving on a sidewalk to get around school traffic... coming dangerously close to kids.

City Councilman Ben Kallos is proposing drastic measures to deal with impatient drivers, according to reports published in the NY Post.

PIX11 As temperatures plummet, NYC counts the homeless by Henry Rosoff

As temperatures plummet, NYC counts the homeless

MANHATTAN -- With temperatures plummeting, the city is turning its attention to the homeless population.

On Monday night, hundreds of volunteers will try to get a sense of how many people are on the streets and what their needs are through the Homeless Outreach Population Estimate or HOPE count.

PIX11 NYC Affordable Housing Crisis: Helping Puerto Rican grandma who evacuated Hurricane Maria get a home by MONICA MORALES

NYC Affordable Housing Crisis: Helping Puerto Rican grandma who evacuated Hurricane Maria get a home

NEW YORK -- Rosa Rodriguez from Brooklyn says her 65-year-old mother Anna Rivera survived so much this past year. Her husband passed away. She survived cancer. Then Hurricane Maria destroyed her home in Puerto Rico. Rivera fled to NYC for a better life.

But Rodriguez doesn’t have the resources right now to help her mother find her own home here in NYC.

“She cries everyday. She’s losing hope,” Rodriguez said.

Councilmember Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island, says one of the biggest battles in NYC is preserving affordable housing.

“The population keeps growing and growing and it’s a crisis," Kallos said. "We can’t build our way out of it but what we can do is make sure people who are building new housing build affordable mandatory affordable housing."

Darma Diaz, with a grassroots organization called YNCCA, an organization that says it's helped place dozens of Hurricane Maria evacuees, saw PIX11’s story and sprung into action for Maria.

More on YNCCA can be found here.

A spokesperson for Human Resources Administration says, “We have assisted over 2,500 evacuees from Puerto Rico who registered with the Service Center the City created immediately after Hurricane Maria by connecting them to benefits such a SNAP and Cash Assistance, health insurance, mental health counseling, and assistance for displaced students, among other services. In addition, we made 945 referrals to Homebase, the City’s homelessness prevention program which provides a variety of prevention services to assist families and individuals experiencing housing crisis and are at imminent risk of entering shelter.”

If you can help Rivera, email Monica Morales direct at monica@pix11.com

See this week's live Monica Makes It Happen Facebook show:

PIX11 New bill would require NYC buses to have GPS, app to provide information for parents by JOE MAUCERI

New bill would require NYC buses to have GPS, app to provide information for parents

"I still don't know what happened," Kaiser said, referring to the first day of school for her kids. "And I would have loved to have had GPS on our bus that day to have an answer to that question."

Soon she may get her wish. Councilman Ben Kallos introduced a bill that would require all school buses to have GPS and an app that would make that information available to parents.

"This is not an expensive problem to solve," Kallos said. "This is something that buses have solved, garbage trucks have solved, and Uber, Lyft, and every other ride hailing program in the country has solved."

Right now two-thirds of all school buses are equipped with GPS but schools and parents don't have access to that data.

"And so the big difference that this bill would make is ensuring that parents can follow that GPS real-time data and see where the bus is and where their children are," said Randy Levine of Advocates for Children of New York.

PIX11 PIX11 investigates: How safe is the city’s 300 miles of scaffolding? by Henry Rosoff

PIX11 investigates: How safe is the city’s 300 miles of scaffolding?

Some building owners just leave it up for years instead of doing costly facade repairs.

“The scaffolding is there to keep us safe from the building, but who’s going to keep us safe from the scaffolding,” City Councilmember Ben Kallos said.

Kallos has been trying to bring down lingering metal piping that cover sidewalks for years on end— calling it a quality of life and safety issue. He is currently proposing legislation in this latest legislative session that would mandate owners “get the work done within six months or the city will step in and do the work and make bad landlords pay.”