This page is a re-post of our City Council government newsletter. You can view the original post on our City Council website.
As I turn 40 this month, I hope you will join me on my actual birthday, Friday, February 5th, for our monthly "First Friday." The best part of my job is getting to connect with my constituents, and if we still haven't met, the best gift of all would be to meet you.
My birthday has me reflecting on everything we've accomplished together since I took office in 2014, from success stories we already told in our annual report to projects that I've worked on since my first year in office that finally came to fruition this month.
On my first day as a City Council member, I met with Rockefeller University to begin work on a new biotech hub that will receive $28 million in public and private funding to grow jobs right here in the neighborhood. Working with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney as co-chair of the East River Esplanade we secured another $284 million from the Mayor to fund repairs from 94th Street into East Harlem, bringing our total funding to $874 million give or take a million. We even opened a new $7 million library on Roosevelt Island with $1.7 million from the City Council. As you may have seen in the New York Times, we rallied, we protested, and even marched across the Queensboro Bridge and won a dedicated bike lane connecting our two boroughs at a time that more and more people are biking than ever before.
Our community is welcoming a "safe haven" to get homeless off the streets in the neighborhood, and I couldn't be prouder. In fact, I co-founded the Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services (ETHOS) with Borough President Gale Brewer and Senator Liz Krueger to convene faith and non-profit service providers with the government for the single purpose of bringing more resources to serve the homeless in the community. From building supportive housing for homeless families across the street from where I live to a new supermarket style food pantry around the corner, we are succeeding in helping.
Following a rally, I led for the Summer Youth Employment Program which had been halved and quartered by the Mayor last year, leaving kids in the pandemic with little to do. In this year's budget, we already won a restoration to fund 70,000 youth jobs, and I am now fighting alongside now-Congressman Ritchie Torres, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and Borough President Gale Brewer, to make the program universal for all 100,000 children who apply.
After New Yorkers were forced to wait hours to vote early because our corrupt Albany legislature failed to mandate enough poll sites, I've authored legislation to double the number of early voting sites for the June Primary, then double them again twice thereafter, so you can vote early quickly. In order to vote in the June Primary you must be registered with a political party and the deadline to register with a party is February 14, 2021.
I believe in holding myself accountable to you, my constituents, which is why every year I report on our progress, where we've won, where we've lost, and where, if we work together, I believe we can still succeed. Please join me for our Annual State of the District on Sunday February 22nd at 12:30PM.
Ben's 40th Birthday & First Friday
Black History Month
State of the District
Smoke Alarm Presentation
TABLE OF CONTENTS
(Read in your browser)
- City to Invest $38 Million in BioTech, Life Sciences Innovation
- $284 Million in Renovations to the East River Esplanade
- Universal Summer Youth Job Campaign Starts with Early Win
- Covid-19 Vaccine Eligibility Opens for Over 65 and Essential Workers, How to Get the Vaccine
- Cutting the Ribbon on the New Roosevelt Island Library
- Fighting to Bring the Vaccine to Roosevelt Island
- Roosevelt Island Needs A Bank
HOMELESS AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING
- Opening a Safe Haven to Get Homeless in the Community Off the Streets
- Homeless Residents of Lucerne Can Stay for Now
- Rally Fighting Over Development for Affordable Housing at Two Bridges
- We Need More Early Voting Sites for the June Primary
- Voter Registration Deadlines - Change Party Affiliation by February 14
- Apply to Be on Your Community Board in February
- Fighting for the Expansion of Voting Rights at NYIC’s Annual Legislative Breakfast
- Condemning Anti-Semitic Apparel Sold to Capitol Rioters by Alleged District-Based Distributor & Recent Arrests in the Neighborhood
- First Friday + My 40th Birthday
- Black History Month Event
- State of the District 2021 (Virtual)
- Smoke Alarm Presentation + FREE Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector Installation
- Flu Shot Information
- Free Mask Distributions
- Play Tennis at Sutton East for $10, Apply for Tennis Scholarship
- New York Juniors Tennis & Learning Fall Schedule
- Queensboro Bridge to Finally Get Bike Lanes After Years of Fighting
- Plow Our Intersections & Bike Lanes
- Calling for More Bike Parking Space with Transportation Alternatives
JOBS & THE ECONOMY
- 2021 SCHE & DHE Program Updates
- Search and Care’s “Talkin-It-Out”
- Gun Violence Destroys Families PSA
- LiveOn NY's Benefits Outreach Program
- Census Bureau Survey Jobs
- Health Advocates for Older People
- New York City Ballet Now Offers Digital Offers Programming
- Apply for Heating and Cooling Assistance (HEAP)
- Manhattan Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Resource Network
- Child Mind Institute’s Caregiver Support Workshops
- NYC Department of Education Launches Parent University
- Harmony Program’s Free “Harmony at Home” Beginner Music Lessons
- Free Virtual Arts Classes for NYC Youth with Virtual Culture
- Read to Lead Makes Learning Fun for Middle Schoolers
- Central Synagogue’s Grab-and-Go Food Program
- Tips for Rideshare Safety
- Search and Care Counseling Program: “Talkin’ it Out”
- NYU Langone Health’s Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias Family Support Program
- New York Legal Assistance Group COVID-19 Legal Resource Hotline
On my first day as an elected official, New Year's day 2014, I met with the Rockefeller University. I can still remember the frosted grass on their lush campus crunching under my feet. At the meeting they proposed building a new Life Sciences Campus over the FDR with a promise to invest what would become $15 million in rebuilding the Esplanade from 62nd to 68th Street, the first investment of its kind in generations. They shared that they would be moving Nobel Laureates who were using antiquated academic labs into the new proposed life sciences building. I asked what would happen to the old space and if we could create a new biotech incubator?
We've been working together in the seven years since that day on a new biotech incubator to retain top talent and grow jobs right in the district, and I am proud to share $9 million in funding from the city to do just that. Rockefeller University will convert 26,000 square feet of academic research labs into the Tri-Institutional Translational Center for Therapeutics, an incubator for commercial life sciences, which will serve as the first of its kind on the Upper East Side. This new facility will also seek to convert the scientific potential of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weil Cornell Medicine into local high-growth companies. Read more in Upper East Side Patch.
As Co-Chair of the East River Esplanade Taskforce with Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, I am proud to announce that we've secured another $284 million for the East River Esplanade that will run from 94th Street to 125th Street in East Harlem. This adds to more than half a million for repairs that we've previously secured. As I shared with Patch:
“I'm troubled by the fact that the work that was funded on the [Upper] East Side has already been completed, and much of the work that was funded over the last seven years for East Harlem still hasn’t started.”
The funding will be distributed as follows:
- Repairs between 94th and 107th streets: $187 million
- Repairs between 118th and 124th streets: $69 million
- Reconstruction of Pier 107: $28 million
If you recall, over the summer a section of the East River Esplanade collapsed and resulted in a sinkhole near East 76th Street. Although the City Parks Department quickly repaired the sinkhole by November, I have no doubt that another would have eventually sprung up without a plan in place for major renovations. I am glad to know that our calls did not go unheard by the City. Soon my constituents and I will finally be able to run, bike, or walk the entire length of my district from Midtown East to East Harlem. Thank you to my co-chair Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez, Council Member Diana Ayala, Community Boards 8 and 11, Friends of the East River Esplanade, CIVITAS, and countless others for their advocacy and support. For more information, read coverage by Patch.
I am proud to share that after years of tireless community advocacy, we finally won a restoration of funding for the City’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) from $30,000 to $70,000. Just days prior, I worked with Public Advocate Jumaane Williams to organize a virtual rally calling for the passing of our joint legislation establishing a universal youth employment program, alongside Youth Services Chair Debi Rose, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Councilmembers Carlina Rivera and Carlos Manchaca, United Neighborhood Housing, Chinese Planning Council and more. As I told New York County Politics:
“At this point we can’t blame the virus anymore. Our city is making decisions and young people are paying the price.”
Since it was established in 1963, SYEP has provided employment and paid internships for youth ages 14 to 24, particularly those who are low-income. The program, which employed 80,000 youth at its peak, is invaluable and remains vital to the livelihood of tens of thousands of families in New York City. This was a hard-fought victory and I intend to hold Mayor de Blasio accountable for his promise of full funding until it is fulfilled. For more information, see full coverage by New York County Politics.
In the current phase of Vaccine distribution, Phase 1B, any New Yorker 75 and over is eligible to begin taking the vaccine. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are both messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. mRNA are molecules that provide instructions. They do not contain the virus. mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to create an immune response so that the body knows how to fight the virus if it is later exposed to the virus. Once your body learns how to create the immune response, it breaks down and gets rid of the mRNA. The expansion also makes the vaccination available to:
- Teachers, child care workers, college instructors, education workers - 870,00 people
- First responders - 207,000
- Public safety workers - 100,000
- Public transit workers - 100,00
- Grocery workers & shelter residents
- Taxi drivers
- Restaurant workers
- Workers at facilities for the developmentally disabled.
The closest city-operated locations to the district are:
The Institute for Family Health, Health Center of Harlem
1824 Madison Avenue, Manhattan, 10035
(between East 118th and 119th Street)
NYC Health Dept.- Uptown Clinic
158 East 115 Street, Basement, Manhattan, 10029
(between 3rd and Lexington Ave)
NYC Health + Hospitals, Metropolitan
1901 First Avenue, 4A, Manhattan, 10029
(between East 97th and 99th Street)
215 East 95th Street, Manhattan, 10128
(between 2nd and 3rd Ave)
Lenox Hill Hospital - Einhorn Auditorium
131 East 76th Street, Manhattan, 10021
(between Lexington and Park Ave)
32-50 Vernon Boulevard, Queens, 11106
Hospital for Special Surgery
525 East 71st Street, Belaire building (courtyard and ground floor), Manhattan, 10021
(between York Ave and FDR Drive)
NYC Health + Hospitals, Bellevue
462 1 Avenue, Manhattan, 10016
(between East 26th and 28th Street)
Three new mega vaccination sites have also opened, one at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, one in the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park and the other in the Bathgate Contract Postal Station in the Bronx. As of today, the sites are operating 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you would like to administer the vaccine, please get trained and visit the providers’ page to learn more. Individuals being vaccinated are required to bring proof of eligibility to the vaccination site. This may include an employee ID card, a letter from an employer or affiliated organization, or a pay stub, depending on the specific priority status. The State is warning residents that it is possible that due to this expansion, wait times for the vaccine may extend into weeks. We are always here to help individuals and providers get the vaccine. For more information on this expansion, visit governor.ny.gov.
My office remains committed to working with communities to recover from the pandemic. For questions any questions or concerns you may have regarding the vaccine, email email@example.com.
Last week, I joined Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright for a first walkthrough of a brand new, much larger Roosevelt Island branch of the New York Public Library, which replaces the former one-room branch. It will open for grab-and-go service on January 25. It’s exciting to see this project fulfilled as my office helped to allocate and retain $1.7 million in funding for it with Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Borough President and former City Council Member Jessica Lappin. As I shared with Patch:
“Roosevelt Islanders have always loved their public library and now they are going to love it even more.”
The new branch includes:
- A separate children’s area with glass doors and partition to uphold an outdoor feel;
- A teen area;
- A reading room for adults;
- 16,000 books to browse;
- 29 dedicated computer workstations or laptops for children, teens, or adults
- A community room for programming;
- A landscaped entry area with an exterior book drop (which will not be accessible until the branch opens fully to the public);
- Outdoor bench seating that will also serve as a local bus stop; and
- An audio induction loop to help the hearing impaired.
The City’s Department of Design and Construction, also in attendance at the ribbon-cutting, broke ground on the $7.8 million project in October of 2018. I am glad to see its completion at a time when residents need it most. For more information, see coverage by Patch and Time Out New York.
Since the Food and Drug Administration approved and released the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, it has only been made available to limited groups such as essential workers and New Yorkers 75 and over as a part of Phase 1B. Though Governor Cuomo has worked to open dozens of vaccine sites across New York City and President Biden has promised 100,000 million vaccinations in his first 100 days, the overall shortage has forced residents in communities like Roosevelt Island to travel off-Island to Manhattan or Queens to get their doses--an inconvenience that also raises health concerns for the elders living there.
For the recovery of our City and the safety of its residents, we need more sites, specifically where there are none. In the meantime, the sites closest to Roosevelt Island are:
Hospital for Special Surgery
525 East 71st Street, Belaire building (courtyard and ground floor), Manhattan, 10021
(between York Ave and FDR Drive)
32-50 Vernon Boulevard, Queens, 11106
Lenox Hill Hospital - Einhorn Auditorium
131 East 76th Street, Manhattan, 10021
(between Lexington and Park Ave)
For more locations, visit vaccinefinder.nyc.gov.
Since Amalgamated Bank on Roosevelt Island closed its doors for good in September in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been no single bank branch to serve its more than 11,500 residents, forcing them to travel into Manhattan for any in-person banking needs. In the months since, community members have been vocal about the need for a new bank branch and in October, Community Board 8 unanimously approved a resolution asking to re-establish full banking services on Roosevelt Island.
Recently, my office has been working closely with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, Senator José M. Serrano, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, the City’s Department of Finance, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation and Hudson related to open a bank as soon as possible. If you’re reading this and you work at a bank and would like to come to Roosevelt Island, please reach out to my office at BKallos@BenKallos.com.
HOMELESS AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING
As CBS 2 News reported, I am proud to stand alongside Community Board 8 in support of plans to open a safe haven site with 88 low-entry beds for homeless residents in our community. The decision to bring this resource to our neighborhood would not have been possible without the work of my partners in the Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services (ETHOS) and co-founders Senator Liz Krueger and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. In January, plans for building the safe haven passed multiple votes in Community Board 8 with overwhelming support, demonstrating the coalition of residents that understand why this is needed and will be an addition to our neighborhood.
The planned safe haven will be on a block zoned for manufacturing and heavy commercial use. The old Art Farm building at 419 East 91st Street will be renovated to accommodate seven floors, recreation space, and a private garden rooftop. Goddard Riverside, which is already the homeless outreach provider for the Upper East Side, will operate the site which will serve both men and women. A full cohort of services will be provided including case management, housing assistance, wellness groups, medical and psychiatric care and three meals a day plus snacks. Once operational in late 2021, there would be staff and security in the building 24/7, with security on the street from a minimum of 8AM to 6PM.
My office has been working to bring a resource like this to the neighborhood for the last seven years in order to be able to help get homeless individuals living on the street into housing. I am proud to have the support of the local clergy via the Reverend Beverly Dempsey, Pastor at Avenue Church NYC here on the Upper East Side. Just as important, it gives me great joy and hope for the future to have the support of teenage students Ahana and Dale at East Side Middle School, just steps away from where the safe haven will be located. For residents who have mentioned security concerns I can say that the site will be bringing security to a street that does not have it right now all while helping homeless individuals off our streets.
Safe Haven beds offer a lower barrier to entry than shelters and are a critical tool in helping homeless off the street, with a preference for homeless in the neighborhood. They are a critical tool that outreach workers can offer chronically homeless people in a neighborhood with fewer restrictions that mirror more independent living, along with a bevy of on-site and referral services including assistance with daily living skills, psychiatric and medical care, medication management, substance abuse counseling and more. The beds are prioritized for chronically street homeless adults and they can be helpful in getting them off the street. See coverage in CBS 2 News, Curbed and Upper East Side Patch. For more information, visit BenKallos.com/press-release.
Last month, we updated you that a ruling in favor of the right to relocate the 240 or so homeless men sheltered at the Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side had been appealed and that the issue remained in court. I recently joined the Upper West Side Open Hearts Initiative to celebrate a 5-judge panel’s ruling against the forced relocation of Lucerne residents until at least the end of May, which signaled a win for humanity and sent a loud message that our Mayor and City cannot move people around like pawns on a chessboard just because they are homeless.
Over the summer, the Lucerne became a point of contention for Manhattan residents when it became an emergency pandemic shelter for the homeless. Shortly after, I joined members of the community including the Legal Aid Society and UWS Open Hearts Initiative outside of Gracie Mansion to protest Mayor de Blasio’s careless shuffling of homeless and disabled residents around the City.
This treatment of vulnerable New Yorkers is unacceptable. The Lucerne Hotel shelter shouldn’t have been a point of contention in the first place and I felt the neighborhood backlash against the shelter was unwarranted. In fact, I recently wrote an op-ed for amNY detailing how we can utilize the empty space we have to accommodate our homeless families, which you can read in amNY.
I recently stood with the Coalition to Protect Chinatown & the Lower East Side against a plan for four new luxury skyscrapers at Two Bridges that is being developed in place of a community proposal for affordable housing.
As the New York Daily News reported, I have introduced legislation to expand the number of early voting poll sites and locations in New York City. Last year was the first time New Yorkers were able to partake in early voting and it did not go as smoothly as it should. There were countless reports of voters throughout the five boroughs having to stand in line for hours in order to vote.
In 2021, with dozens of seats open for election in the City Council, boroughwide and Citywide races also taking place, including for the Mayoralty, we are expecting an even higher turnout. If we do not want to be waiting for hours on very long lines to vote early, we are going to need more polling sites and expanded hours. That is precisely what my legislation will do by expanding the number of early voting sites around the City from 8 to 16.
The bill would also open the polls earlier, from, at minimum, 8:00am until 8:00pm Monday through Friday, and from 9:00am until 5:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. This would allow for a total of 92 hours of early voting.
If we want everyday New Yorkers, working to be engaged and to come out to vote early, we cannot expect them to wait in line for hours to do so. This is legislation that the City can enact without waiting on Albany to do their job. For more information read the release at BenKallos.com/press-release.
Verify your voter registration before it is too late at NYCVoterSearch.com.
Last Day to Change Your Party Affiliation: Sunday, February 14, 2021
Registration Deadline to Vote in the June Primary: Friday, May 28, 2021
Voter registration forms must be received by June 2, 2021
Register online with a New York State Drivers License or Identification Card at https://dmv.ny.gov/more-info/electronic-voter-registration-application
Call 866-VOTE-NYC (866-686-3692) to have your voter registration card mailed to you for you to complete and return by mail.
Register by downloading, completing and mailing a voter registration form from Vote.nyc
Last Day to Apply for an Absentee Ballot: Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Request your Absentee Ballot online at NYCabsentee.com
Download, complete, and mail your absentee ballot application at Vote.nyc
Early Voting: Saturday, June 12 - Sunday, June 20, 2021
Primary Election Day: Tuesday, June 22, 2021
You must be registered in a political party in order to vote in that party's Primary Election on June 22, 2021.
The Manhattan Borough President's office is currently accepting applications for Community Board memberships. The application deadline is Monday, February 22.
Community Boards represent their neighborhoods on crucial issues including real estate development and land use, historic preservation and even liquor licenses. Serving as a volunteer Community Board member is an incredible opportunity to be on the front lines of our civic landscape.
Since I took office, I have been working on reforms to make the Community Board a productive place for you to get involved in local issues. If you are interested in being a leader and representative of the Upper East Side we encourage you to start attending meetings and apply.
At the New York Immigration Coalition’s Annual Legislative Breakfast, I spoke on why we must pass Int-1867 to expand voting rights to the nearly 1 million green card holders and other authorized workers in our City who deserve a voice in our democracy.
Condemning Anti-Semitic Apparel Sold to Capitol Rioters by Alleged District-Based Distributor & Recent Arrests in the Neighborhood
As CBS 2 recently reported, when anti-Semitic apparel worn by a Capitol rioter was traced to an Upper East Side vendor address, I bolstered residents’ calls to have the vendor’s website shut down immediately. Within a day, we were successful in getting that and other hate speech items removed from the site, and I also contacted the board of the building that the website was allegedly operating out of to see if the author could be educated.
“The Upper East Side is the neighborhood that welcomed my grandparents when they fled antisemitism in Europe. They welcomed my wife, who fled antisemitism in Russia. It’s enraging to think that Nazis were selling antisemitic propaganda, hiding in plain sight,” I told CBS 2.
Though it has since been determined by the president of the housing co-op at the listed address that linkage to the site is false, I was happy to use this as an opportunity to send a message that White supremacists and their sympathizers are not welcome in the district.
Amplifying that message even further, the FBI recently arrested two men on the Upper East Side for their alleged involvement in the Capitol riots. For more information on this incident, see coverage by CBS 2 and Upper East Side Patch.
As you may have read in the New York Post, the City’s Department of Education recently bailed on operating the Upper East Side’s first French dual language program after just one semester of classes, declining to extend and expand the program at a new site to save seats for students who may return for in-person learning. I joined parents, some of whom were left scrambling to secure spots in regular programs, in expressing my disapproval of the last-minute decision, which can affect the education of dozens of students. As I told the Post:
“The faster we bring the program to more francophone families that need it, the better off the children will be.”
In November, after more than a yearlong fight, I was proud to cut the ribbon in celebration of the very first French dual language program for pre-K students on the Upper East Side, which was covered by TAPinto, New York County Politics and Patch. The French dual language classes began in September with seats for 36 pre-K students. The Department of Education had been operating these classes using a side-by-side instructional model with one Early Childhood-certified teacher who is fluent in French and who has or will work towards a bilingual extension, alongside a second Early Childhood-certified teacher. The same way I fought alongside the Francophone community for a year to win this inaugural dual language programming on the Upper East Side, I will fight until the programming is restored.
First Friday + My 40th Birthday
Friday, February 5, 8am–10am
I couldn't imagine a better way to celebrate my 40th birthday than at my office’s monthly First Friday meeting with the neighbors and community members whom I’ve had the pleasure of serving for the last six years. Though my office remains physically closed for everyone’s safety, we are still working remotely and remain here to help.
You must RSVP by Thursday, February 4th to participate.
Video Conference: RSVP for your URL (create a free account at Zoom.us)
Teleconference: RSVP to receive the number and access code
Facebook Live: Skip the RSVP and watch the stream at Facebook.com/BenKallos/live
Questions must be submitted with RSVP or by email to Questions@benkallos.com
RSVP now at BenKallos.com/events.
Please join me and the residents of the Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center as we celebrate Black History Month with an online program complete with special performances. Details pending. For more information, check BenKallos.com/events
State of the District
Sunday, February 21, 12:30pm – 2pm
You are invited! Please join me for my annual report at my State of the District, which will be held online this year. We will recognize all the work members of our community have done together with my office over the past 7 years and give a preview of what’s in store for 2021. RSVP by calling 212-860-1950 or at BenKallos.com/Events
Smoke Alarm Presentation
Monday, February 22, 6:30pm
In recent years, 70% of fire deaths have occurred in homes where there were no working smoke/carbon monoxide alarms. But the risk of dying in a fire is cut in half when there are working alarms present.
On Monday, February 22nd at 6:30pm, the New York City Fire Department will give a presentation where participants can learn how to prevent home fires and schedule a FREE appointment for smoke and carbon monoxide detector home installation. RSVP by calling 212-860-1950 or at BenKallos.com/Events
As TAPinto reported, I am proud to share that through my collaboration with the East 86th St. Association, a total of 15,000 face masks were distributed over the last month, thanks to the hard work of Andrew Fine and volunteers who partnered with my office to ensure the safety and health of residents. We continue our partnership with the community to distribute disposable masks and hand sanitizer. Reach out to our partners to get yours now:
Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center (RSVP) – Tuesday, February 23rd, 11:15am–12:00pm, 415 East 93rd Street in the Courtyard
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
Please consider volunteering to be a building captain so that friends and neighbors can pick up masks and hand sanitizer from outside your door, or hand them off to your door person to distribute, and let us know when you need more.
Don’t wait to get your flu shot. Dual infection from the flu and Covid-19 can cause additional health problems that early vaccination can prevent. The vaccine is safe, quick and available now at locations around the city. Below are a few chain locations where you can sign up for a free flu shot:
You can also find locations near you at nyc.gov/site/doh/health
Any New Yorker can play tennis at the Queensboro Oval all winter long for just $10 per person, per hour. Now you can get a game in before work, over lunch, even late nights. Last September, Sutton East Tennis announced new discounted programming that my office and the New York City Parks Department worked to achieve over the last few years. Winter programming will run for the 30-week season-ending April 11, 2021, and includes:
$10 per person during drop-in hours weekday mornings (6am–8am), afternoons, (1pm–3pm) and evenings (10pm - midnight) and weekend mornings (6am–8am) and evenings (8pm–12pm).
$10 per person senior (over 62) offered Monday – Friday at 6am–8am and 1pm–3pm. MUST call 212-751-3452 to book. No walk-ins allowed.
I am thankful for the support of Community Board 8, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Assembly Member Dan Quart. Get more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 212-751-3452.
Sutton East Tennis is also offering scholarships for children ages 3–18 for its 2020–21 Fall/Winter programs. Scholarship applicants must be residents of the City of New York and come from households with an annual income of less than $150,000. For more details, visit docs.google.com/forms
As the City continues to recover from Covid-19, the New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL) coaches at the Octagon Park in Roosevelt Island are providing the youth of your community with some much-needed physical activity and engagement.
The fall/winter season is scheduled to continue with all NYJTL sites following stringent Covid-19 protocols to protect the health and welfare of NYJTL staff and players. To register, visit nyjtl.org/programs/free-tennis
As you may have read in the New York Times, I am proud to share that the City will be implementing a request from cyclists and pedestrians alike to close a lane on the Queensboro Bridge and reserve it for cyclists that Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and I have been supporting. This comes after years of our joint advocacy alongside community organizations for more space on the bridge for cyclists and pedestrians. In a long-awaited victory lap, I told Streetsblog:
“This is a moment to say we did it. Bike riders from Manhattan and Queens, rejoice. We won. It is good that the mayor heard the call and acted.”
Thousands of New Yorkers bike, walk, and run over the Queensboro Bridge each day. The bridge has nine lanes for car traffic, yet only a narrow path along the northern edge of the bridge is open for cyclists and pedestrians to share, causing conflicts, congestion, and in the age of COVID, dangerous crowding. As the Manhattan council members whose districts border the bridge, and whose constituents depend on this critical inter-borough connection, Council Member Van Bramer and I called on the city make more space for bike and foot traffic by opening the South Outer Roadway as a pedestrians-only lane, even offering to cover the cost of the project.
In an op-ed for AMNY, we also addressed the safety improvements that our proposal would require and “pledged to use some of our discretionary capital funding to help install fencing along a new South Outer Sidewalk.” A day later, Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg began working with our offices to move forward with the plan. I am proud to see the changes are finally underway.
Thank you to Transportation Alternatives, Bike New York, StreetsPAC, environmental activist Charles Komanoff and all of the other advocates who have rallied with me over the years in this push to make our bridges a space for people, not just cars. For more information, see coverage by the New York Times and Streetsblog.
As Streetsblog recently reported, when the pandemic caused balloting for Participatory Budgeting (PB) to be cancelled, I teamed up with Council Member Keith Power to allocate discretionary funds for two snow plows for bike lanes and pedestrian intersections.
However, due to needless bureaucracy and red tape the City won't use my money to purchase equipment. Worse even, the City has not made plans to produce funds for the plows, the absence of which left bike lanes completely unswept for days in December. As I told Streetsblog:
“It’s a $94-billion budget and the fact that the city can’t find $30,000 to buy a plow attachment to keep cyclists safe is a joke.”
Last month, Transportation Alternatives (TA) released a new report detailing the considerable lack of bike parking in New York City, as well as specific recommendations for improving this crucial piece of transportation infrastructure across the five boroughs. TA also launched an online petition calling on Mayor de Blasio to invest in safe, secure bike parking.
In the report, The Power of Bicycle Parking, TA argues that secure bicycle parking — just like a protected bike lane — is a critical utility that encourages more New Yorkers to travel by bike. At present, bike parking remains far too limited and insecure, and this disproportionately impacts lower income New Yorkers and New Yorkers of color, as they are less likely to ride when bicycle parking is unavailable. As I shared with Our Town:
“With the pandemic people are trying to avoid congregating and for the first time, the best option for people to get to most places in Manhattan isn’t a car.”
With bicycling booming, traffic fatalities increasing, and bicycle theft up by more than 27 percent, the time is now for the de Blasio administration to fulfill and improve upon long-overdue promises for bike parking. For more information, read full coverage by Our Town and Patch, or read the release at BenKallos.com/press-release.
JOBS & THE ECONOMY
I was proud to stand with the City’s Central Labor Council, Teamsters Joint Council 16 and Local 202 workers at Hunts Point Market on strike demanding and winning fair wages for the essential work they perform in the food distribution industry.
I joined students at Columbia University to call out their administration for upholding a tuition rate of $75,000 despite the ongoing pandemic and their $300 million endowment since it began.
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, due to Covid-19, all clinics will be done by phone (no video) until further notice. Appointments take place 2pm–6pm:
- General Civil Law, 2nd and 4th Friday with Patricia Murrell, Esq.
- Life Planning Clinic, 3rd Wednesday with Tina Janssen-Spinosa, Esq.
- Family Law and Domestic Violence, 1st Tuesday with Afua Fullwood, Esq.
- Housing Clinics,
1st & 3rd Monday with Paul Kushner, Esq.
1st Wednesday with Daniel Espo, Esq.
2nd & 4th Wednesday with Kyle Carraro, Esq.
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 BKallos@BenKallos.com with any unresolved 311 complaints.
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.
2021 SCHE & DHE Program Updates
Due to a new law passed in response to COVID-19, most Senior Citizen Homeowners’ Exemption (SCHE) and Disabled Homeowners’ Exemption (DHE) recipients are not required to renew their benefits this year. DOF will mail owners a renewal letter if they need to take any action; otherwise, the benefit will be automatically renewed at its current level and they will continue to receive it.
Note: If your income decreased in 2020, you have the option to submit a renewal application so that the City’s Department of Finance can determine whether you are eligible for a larger benefit. Please note that if your income last year was less than $50,000, you are almost certainly receiving the largest possible benefit.
On December 28, 2020, the governor signed into law the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act, removing the requirement for 2021 SCHE and DHE renewal applications to be filed for eligible property owners who received a SCHE or DHE benefit in 2020.
No renewal application is required for eligible 2020 SCHE or DHE recipients to continue receiving the exemption benefit at the same amount. However, if their income decreased in 2020, they have the option to submit a renewal application so that we can determine whether they are eligible for a larger benefit. (Please note that most homeowners are already receiving the largest possible benefit.)
The state law allows the City to pass a local law requiring a renewal application from homeowners whose eligibility may have changed due to the death of a benefit recipient or any of the following:
Changes to the recipient’s primary residence
The addition of another owner to the deed
The transfer of the property to a new owner
If such a local law is enacted and you fall under one of the exceptions listed above, you will be required to file your SCHE or DHE renewal application before the March 15, 2021, deadline. We will send you a letter if you need to take any action.
The deadline for initial applications is March 15, 2021.
Search and Care’s “Talkin-It-Out”
Search and Care’s “Talkin-It-Out” is an informal chat service that gives older men and women a confidential, non-stigmatizing opportunity to explore their concerns with two of Search and Care’s empathic bilingual Licensed Master Social Workers’ (LMSWs) Chris Ramos or Millie Gonzalez – each who possess significant experience helping older adults in this way.
“Talkin-it-Out” chats are typically limited to 30-40 minutes and can be conducted telephonically or via ZOOM. Some seniors call in regularly (e.g. weekly), and some periodically just as needed. Chris and Millie validate, enthusiastically listen, and provide comfort and reassurance at a time when the need for telephonic/virtual human connectivity has become more urgent, being older adults are often still sheltering in place, and more isolated and alone than ever due to COVID. Most especially, they offer a voice that says “I care.” Because it is free of charge and not publically funded, there is leeway to provide each caller with our undivided attention and personalized support. This service has also been helpful for clients recovering in rehabilitation centers as well as clients in need of valuable information and professional referrals and resources in their communities.
Licensed Social Workers Chris or Millie welcome any referrals of seniors who may benefit by informal empathic chatting and “counseling lite.” For many seniors who may tend to shy-away or be fearful of accepting more formalized mental health counseling or psychotherapy, “Talkin-It-Out” can be a good starting point to share concerns and explore issues. Appointments with Chris or Millie can be made by calling Chris Ramos at 212-289-5300; Ext. 205.
Gun Violence Destroys Families PSA
I partnered with Entertainers 4 Education Alliance’s I WILL GRADUATE Youth Development Program for their Gun Violence Destroys Families Initiative to bring awareness to the gun violence problems plaguing our youth and to spotlight the devastating effects of gun violence on their families.
To provide new solutions to combat gun violence in New York City, we aim to:
Help reduce gun-related crimes and violence committed by and against youth in underserved communities throughout New York City.
Make sure NYC youth have positive ways to spend their spare time, through organized recreation, tutoring programs, mentoring programs, part-time work, and volunteer opportunities.
Help provide support to families and spotlight the devastating effects of gun violence on families.
Discourage the carrying and use of illegal guns by NYC youth.
Interrupting the cycle of retaliatory violence.
Help provide conflict resolution strategies youth can use.
Coordinate community and law enforcement efforts to ensure the safety of our youth in their community.
Help provide health and social-emotional wellness programs to the community.
Watch the “Gun Violence Destroys Families” PSA from now until February 19th, 2021 at vimeo.com.
LiveOn NY's Benefits Outreach Program
Did you know that many older adults aren’t aware that they may be eligible for benefits that can help purchase food, freeze the rent, cover some medical expenses and lower property taxes? Whether you're retired, unemployed or working part-time, LiveOn NY's Benefits Outreach Program is dedicated to helping older adults (and others) apply for these benefits and more! Our staff will help you throughout the application process and support you and advocate on your behalf if any issues or barriers arise.
For more information, please contact us at (212) 398-5045 or email@example.com.
Census Bureau Survey Jobs
While data collection for the decennial census was completed as of mid-October, the U.S. Census Bureau's ongoing work for the American Community Survey, American Housing Survey and many other surveys continues.
Applicants are needed who speak Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and Korean in NYC and Yiddish in Brooklyn and Orange and Rockland Counties. Russian speakers are sought in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.
For more information, visit census.gov.
Health Advocates for Older People
Even with the onset of Covid-19, Health Advocates for Older Adults’ exercise programs continue to be held via Zoom seven days a week at no cost to participants. The classes offer a positive way for seniors to optimize their aging process. To learn more visit www.hafop.org or call 212-980-1700.
New York City Ballet Now Offers Digital Offers Programming
Since the New York City Ballet is unable to offer live, in-person programming, it is proud to pivot to digital programming and offer educational workshops for public school children and people with disabilities without interruption. The New York City Ballet has also made George Balanchine’s "The Nutcracker” available for streaming for the first time, which can be currently viewed online.For more information, visit nycballet.com.
Apply for Heating and Cooling Assistance (HEAP)
Need help paying your energy bill? As of November 2, low-income New Yorkers can apply for heating and cooling assistance under the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).
The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) helps low-income people pay the cost of heating their homes. If you are eligible, you may receive one regular HEAP benefit per season and could also be eligible for an emergency HEAP benefit if you are in impending danger of running out of fuel or having your utility service shut off.
HEAP may be able to help you if you heat your home with:
- Natural Gas
- Wood/Wood Pellets
Manhattan Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Resource Network
The NYC Small Business Resource Network is a unique private/public partnership to provide our local businesses with the free, personalized guidance they need right now to survive the pandemic. I encourage all small business owners in NYC to sign up for this network today. Once you fill out the brief intake form on our website, businesses will be matched with their own Business Support Specialist who will guide them through a variety of economic recovery resources. Through this program, all five borough Chambers of Commerce have Specialists offering one-on-one support to businesses in their boroughs.
Funded by a $2.8 million grant from the New York City-based Peter G. Peterson Foundation and supported by in-kind contributions from other partners, this collaboration, led by the Partnership for New York City, the NYC Economic Development Corporation and all five Chambers of Commerce, leverages the city’s corporate, financial and professional services sectors, as well as universities, philanthropies and expert volunteers to help small business owners gain access to a range of programs and services.
For more information, visit NYCSmallBusinessResourceNetwork.org.
Child Mind Institute’s Caregiver Support Workshops
The Child Mind Institute’s School and Community Programs team invites you to join its upcoming Caregiver Support Workshops. The three workshop series are designed to provide families with proactive strategies they can use to support their child’s mental health and learning needs while virtually learning from home. These workshops are available at no cost to all NYC DOE parents and caregivers. See below for additional details:
Promoting Positive Behaviors for Your Child (Register)
Structuring a Home Learning Environment; Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021 | 4:00pm – 5:00pm EST
Managing Kids' Screen Time; Tuesday, February 9th, 2021 | 9:00am – 10:00am EST
Motivating Your Child for Remote Learning – Part 1; Wednesday, February 17th, 2021 | 4:00pm – 5:00pm EST
Motivating Your Child for Remote Learning – Part 2; Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021 | 9:00am – 10:00am EST
Improving Your Relationship With Your Child; Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021 | 4:00pm – 5:00pm EST
Parent Calming Techniques; Tuesday, March 9th, 2021 | 9:00am – 10:00am EST
Coping During COVID-19 (Register)
Managing Grief and Loss; Monday, January 11th, 2021 | 4:00pm – 5:00pm EST
Managing Stress and Anxiety; Tuesday, January 12th, 2021 | 5:00pm – 6:00pm EST
Mindful Parenting; Monday, January 18th, 2021 | 5:00pm – 6:00pm EST
Managing Intense Emotions; Wednesday, January 20th, 2021 | 5:00pm – 6:00pm EST
Will My Child be Okay?; Monday, January 25th, 2021 | 5:00pm – 6:00pm EST
Fostering Resilience Within Your Family; Thursday, January 28th, 2021 | 4:00pm – 5:00pm EST
Supporting Learning at Home (Register)
Supporting Your Child in Virtual Learning; Wednesday, January 13th, 2021 | 5:00pm – 6:00pm EST
Building and Supporting Executive Functioning Skills; Tuesday, February 9th, 2021 | 4:00pm – 5:00pm EST
Building a Foundation for Reading at Home; Wednesday, February 10th, 2021 | 5:00pm – 6:00pm EST
For additional resources, please visit childmind.org.
NYC Department of Education Launches Parent University
The New York City Department of Education just launched? Parent University, which provides families with access to 95+ free courses, events and activities to support learning from early childhood through adulthood. Parents can register for free workshops on a wide range of topics, including adult education, student social-emotional learning, and special education at parent.schools.nyc.
Harmony Program’s Free “Harmony at Home” Beginner Music Lessons
The Harmony Program’s newest initiative “Harmony at Home,” created in response to the ongoing pandemic, is an original series of YouTube-based beginner music lessons. This free, year-long series began on November 16th and consists of weekly, 30-minute lessons in music fundamentals. Their hope is that music educators will incorporate these videos into their music classes and that children and families will enjoy them at home.
Watch a brief introductory video featuring some of the prominent guest artists involved in the effort at YouTube.com.
Free Virtual Arts Classes for NYC Youth with Virtual Culture
Virtual Culture is a living catalog of 30+ free and subsidized virtual classes in dance, theatre, activism, music and writing for NYC’s 12 to19-year-olds. Through partnerships with 38 of our city's world-class arts and cultural organizations, their goal is to increase access to the arts by providing young people with a centralized platform to discover free arts opportunities in NYC.
With the city finally providing devices and WiFi access for all students, there is an unprecedented opportunity to create an integrated and more level playing field. For more information, visit VirtualCulture.nyc.
Read to Lead Makes Learning Fun for Middle Schoolers
Read to Lead is a fun, engaging, and relevant way to blast through traditional reading barriers and promote workplace readiness and skill-building. By playing games, students increase reading achievement, find motivation, and see—often for the first time—a real connection between learning, career aspirations, and their futures. Read to Lead is geared for students in 5th–9th grades and has been successfully implemented in English Language Arts courses during the school day as well as expanded learning environments in afterschool and summer.
Plus, Read to Lead provides FREE community action projects, coaching, and implementation support! Their staff is committed to turn-key implementation by building the capacity of teachers and program staff.
Why should you use Read to Lead?
Improve literacy through a non-traditional method: Each episode of Read to Lead is 5,000 words or 30 minutes of reading time. By completing games, students have read 1 middle-grade book!
Encourage leadership: In Read to Lead games, youth are the boss. They must evaluate evidence, make decisions and lead their staff.
Cultivate youth voice: community action projects allow students to transfer their leadership and problem-solving skills to benefit their community.
How do I learn more?
- Play the Vital Signs (STEM Immersive) or Community in Crisis (Community Service Immersive) demo.
Visit rtlgames.org to learn more about the program.
- Contact Kwamara Thompson, firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a virtual demo and to learn more.
Central Synagogue’s Grab-and-Go Food Program
The Central Synagogue on Lexington and 55th Street serves grab-and-go breakfast and lunch every Thursday and Friday from 6:30-7:30am via the Pavillion door, rain or shine and including holidays. This meal distribution is open to everyone in need of a hot breakfast and a cold lunch. For more information, contact email@example.com
Tips for Rideshare Safety
Unfortunately, 6% of women in a recent survey reported having felt unsafe during an encounter with a rideshare driver.
Review.com recently published preventative measures for avoiding COVID-19 transmission, while discussing what companies are doing to make ridesharing safer. It also provided precautions for women to take with them during every ride to remain safe while traveling solo. Read more at Reviews.com/insurance/car/ride-share-safety-tips.
Search and Care Counseling Program: “Talkin’ it Out”
Need someone to talk to? Try Search and Care’s “Talkin’ it Out” program. Talkin’ it Out is free of charge for adults 60+ and provides safe, confidential, one-on-one telephonic counseling where you can privately express your thoughts and feelings, with no judgment or commitment. Call Search and Care’s Millie or Chris (both bilingual social workers) at 212-289-5300 to learn more.
Search and Care is also increasing its virtual group activities to counteract the isolation and depression impacting our older neighbors.
On December 11th, Search and Care is offering an advocacy workshop. Many seniors come out to help their electeds stand up for their rights; this is for the even larger group who have something to say but don’t know where to start. Register for this empowerment workshop at zoom.us.
Starting December 9th, Search and Care is launching a virtual book lover’s group, for which a facilitator will read aloud with discussion to follow. Register for the Reading Room at zoom.us.
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 its services are free and available online and by phone.
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 respiteThis program is supported by a grant from the New York State Department of Health and is available to all New York City residents.
For more information, call 646-754-2277 or visit NYUlangone.org/memorydisordersupport