New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Nick Garber

Upper East Side Patch New 'Safe Haven' Shelter On Upper East Side Welcomed By Board by Nick Garber

New 'Safe Haven' Shelter On Upper East Side Welcomed By Board

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — A proposed shelter on the Upper East Side won the unanimous backing of a community board committee on Wednesday, as members expressed hope that the new facility could help the neighborhood's street homeless population find more permanent housing.

The 88-bed shelter is set to open in January 2022 on East 91st Street between First and York avenues. It will be run by Goddard Riverside, the housing-focused nonprofit that is headquartered on the Upper West Side and operates nearly two dozen locations around Manhattan.

An existing building at the current site will be torn down to make way for the new seven-story structure, which will be purpose-built as a shelter serving single adult men and women.

The facility will be a Safe Haven — a type of shelter with a low threshold for admission, whose primary goal is to get people off the streets and into a safe bed. The site will offer social and meal services, counseling, and a rooftop recreational area.

A number of elected officials joined Wednesday's Community Board 8 meeting to speak out in favor of the shelter. City Councilmember Ben Kallos, whose office had advocated for the facility, said it would serve the neighborhood's street homeless residents who are already visible in places like subway stations.

A number of elected officials joined Wednesday's Community Board 8 meeting to speak out in favor of the shelter. City Councilmember Ben Kallos, whose office had advocated for the facility, said it would serve the neighborhood's street homeless residents who are already visible in places like subway stations.

"There's one person on 86th Street on the downtown entrance, there's one person on the northbound entrance ... we all know who they are, we know what they look like," he said.

State Sen. Liz Krueger, whose East Side district includes two other Safe Havens, said neighbors have welcomed the facilities.

"The communities are very glad that they opened and they're actually seeing a difference in people on their streets or not on their streets," Krueger said.

Some residents said the apparent support for the shelter contrasted with the Upper East Side's reputation as a less-than-welcoming neighborhood for the homeless. Resident Ben Wetzler said he hoped the shelter's move-in would be conflict-free, unlike the recent battles on the Upper West Side.

"I'm really hopeful that our neighborhood will be more welcoming and do a better job of working with you," he said.

No one at Wednesday's meeting said they opposed the shelter, although two neighbors expressed concerns about safety. In response, representatives from Goddard Riverside said the shelter would have 24/7 security, as well as psychiatry services for any seriously mentally ill people admitted there.

Among the shelter's supporters were two students at East Side Middle School, located down the block from the future facility.

"I feel that it is very important to help people feel welcome so that they can accept these services," said seventh-grader Ahana. "It's also important to empathize with others to try to understand how you would feel if you were in their situation."

The shelter, and the supporting resolution passed on Wednesday, will be discussed again at CB8's full board meeting on Jan. 20.

 

Upper East Side Patch Was 'Camp Auschwitz' Sweater Made In UES Co-op? Probably Not by Nick Garber

Was 'Camp Auschwitz' Sweater Made In UES Co-op? Probably Not

City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who condemned initial reports that TeeHands was based in the neighborhood, said he welcomed news that the address may have been fake.

"The Upper East Side is a welcoming and friendly place. We do not harbor White supremacists or their sympathizers, so of course, it makes sense that the address listed for this shady company selling racist T-shirts is not a real address in my district," he said in a statement.

Upper East Side Patch UES Nonprofit Steps Up Food Giveaways For A Tough Holiday Season by Nick Garber

UES Nonprofit Steps Up Food Giveaways For A Tough Holiday Season

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — More New Yorkers may be at risk of hunger this holiday season than any other in recent memory, prompting one neighborhood nonprofit to ramp up its efforts to deliver meals to those who need them.

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Aside from deliveries, the center is also hosting two turkey distribution days, the first of which took place Tuesday. Volunteers included Councilmember Ben Kallos and Assemblymembers Dan Quart and Robert Rodriguez.

"Food insecurity is something our City has been grappling with now more than ever before as Covid-19 has hit many communities that were already in need," Kallos said in a statement.

Upper East Side Patch Rare New Affordable Apartments To Be Sold On Upper East Side by Nick Garber

Rare New Affordable Apartments To Be Sold On Upper East Side

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — A newly constructed building on the Upper East Side will soon offer apartments for sale at stunningly low prices, city officials announced this week.

The City Council on Wednesday approved a tax exemption for 10 studio apartments at 1402 York Ave., allowing those units to be sold to households making at least 80 percent of the area median income — $63,860 for an individual or $72,800 for a couple.

That works out to estimated sale prices ranging from $23,972 to $64,437. Applications will be listed on the city's Housing Connect lottery site by Christmas, according to City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who negotiated with the city and developers Beach Path and Hirschen Singer & Epstein LLP to secure the apartments.

Upper East Side Patch Renovation Completed For 18th Century Roosevelt Island Home by Nick Garber

Renovation Completed For 18th Century Roosevelt Island Home

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — A ribbon was cut Wednesday to mark the completion of a long-awaited renovation of the Blackwell House, a historic building on Roosevelt Island whose rehabilitation has been years in the making.

The house, built in 1796, is the oldest building on Roosevelt Island and will become a museum, housing the island's historic artifacts, archives and records.

The $2.9 million renovation was funded by the office of City Councilmember Ben Kallos, the Roosevelt Island Development Corporation (RIOC) and the city.

During the ceremony, Kallos said the push to renovate Blackwell House began during the tenure of his predecessor, Jessica Lappin — who was also in attendance Wednesday — but was delayed more than 13 years due to battles with city agencies over funding.

"To be clear, projects like this should not be celebrating their Bar Mitzvah at their ribbon cutting," Kallos said.

Upper East Side Patch Long-Awaited Carl Schurz Park Playground Renovation Completed by Nick Garber

Long-Awaited Carl Schurz Park Playground Renovation Completed

One day after it reopened, Kallos said the playground was already jam-packed when he stopped by on Friday, with more than one birthday party underway. The yearlong closure was bound to be a hardship for the neighborhood — and the events of the last few months only amplified that, he said.

"If I knew that the pandemic was going to happen, I probably would've wanted to delay it a year," Kallos said.

A small bit of the renovation remains to be done — the Parks Department still needs to replace one piece of equipment and add an ADA-accessible swing, Kallos said.

Still, most of the work wrapped up just in time: the next few days' forecasts call for 70-degree highs.

Upper East Side Patch Desperate Roosevelt Island Parents Ask City For Childcare Help by Nick Garber

Desperate Roosevelt Island Parents Ask City For Childcare Help

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — Parents pleaded with the city on Sunday to expand its citywide remote learning center program to Roosevelt Island, where families have struggled to care for children attending class from home.

The city's Learning Bridges program, rolled out in September, is intended to allow parents to drop off their children at one of dozens of sites around the city on days when students are scheduled for remote learning, rather than in-person class.

Roosevelt Island, though, was not approved for a Learning Bridges site by the city's Department of Youth and Community Development — even though the applicant, the childcare center Island Kids, is "an institution" with a devoted following of families, according to City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who represents the island.

Upper East Side Patch Give Roosevelt Island A Bank, UES Community Board Says by Nick Garber

Give Roosevelt Island A Bank, UES Community Board Says

Beyond the island's permanent residents, board members also expressed concern that students and employees at the island's Cornell Tech campus, as well as patients at the city-run Coler nursing home and rehabilitation center, might be inconvenienced by the absence of services.

City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who represents the island, told Patch on Thursday that he has been in touch with state and federal officials about restoring banking services.

The developer Hudson Related, which has built up parts of the island, has also "reached out to a laundry list of banks" to inquire about setting up a new branch there, Kallos said.

Upper East Side Patch UES Trader Joe's Set For 2021 Opening After Yearslong Move-In by Nick Garber

UES Trader Joe's Set For 2021 Opening After Yearslong Move-In

After presenting the two options to neighborhood groups including the East River 50s Alliance and Sutton Area Community, Kallos said that residents' preference was clear.

"What I will say is, people love Trader Joe's," Kallos said.

Trader Joe's will be committing to the space through June 2026, with an option to renew until 2036, according to a copy of the lease which was shared with Patch.

Upper East Side Patch Vacancy Crisis: Empty Storefronts Blanket Upper East Side by Nick Garber

Vacancy Crisis: Empty Storefronts Blanket Upper East Side

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — For years, Upper East Siders have observed growing numbers of vacant storefronts in the neighborhood. Then the pandemic hit.

The coronavirus threatens to unleash a retail apocalypse on New York City, having already shuttered scores of beloved neighborhood eateries and other businesses facing unfulfillable rent payments and a lack of aid from the federal government.

Before the crisis, vacancies were already mounting — a trend that Upper East Side City Councilmember Ben Kallos blames partly on landlords "demanding rents that only national chains and banks could pay."