This page is a re-post of our City Council government newsletter. You can view the original post on our City Council website.
We've almost made it through 2020 and have so much to look forward to in 2021, from a Covid-19 vaccine to a new Presidential administration, plus an election in June for everything from a new Mayor to a new City Council that will determine the future of our city.
Following record turnout for the Presidential Election, I am holding the Board of Elections accountable, and with so many people asking how to get involved, I've proposed an app to put government in your pocket, literally. But that can only work if we finally deliver on the promise of Universal Broadband, which is why I collaborated with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams on a white paper detailing a roadmap to connecting every New Yorker to the internet.
Just in time for the holidays, the Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services (ETHOS), which I co-founded with Borough President Brewer and Senator Krueger, welcomed a new food pantry to our neighborhood at the Urban Outreach Center.
We closed out the year with another victory against overdevelopment, as Our Town reported that the infamous "Jetson's Tower on Stilts" proposal was finally abandoned. A proposal for the site of the Blood Center came to Community Board 8 Manhattan, with an opportunity to submit testimony for the Environmental Scoping until December 31. In hopes of ending the "land use dance," I've joined Speaker Johnson in proposing a new Comprehensive Planning framework for the city as a whole.
As we make our way through this second wave of Covid-19, indoor dining at restaurants has closed, we brought testing to Roosevelt Island with Borough President Brewer, started administering the vaccine and are pushing to extend the eviction moratorium. As always, we are here to help as we continue distributing masks, hand sanitizer, and food.
Thank you for your partnership in getting through 2020 and this pandemic. Let's look to 2021 with hope for all that it may bring if we work together to build a recovery for all of us.
Happy New Year!
P.S. In observance of the federal holiday on New Year's Day, there will be no First Friday in January, but please join me as I celebrate my 40th Birthday and host First Friday on Friday, February 5th, 2021!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Let’s Put City Government in the Hands of the People, Literally
- Pushing for Universal Internet Access as Mayor de Blasio Reignites Campaign Promise
- Cutting the Ribbon to Welcome a New Food Pantry on the Upper East Side
- Plan for Tower on Stilts Laid to Rest Thanks to Local Advocacy
- NYCHA Tops City & State’s Worst Landlords of 2020 List
- Targeting Disparity in Proposal for New Comprehensive Planning Framework for NYC
- Court Battle Continues over Homeless Men at Lucerne Hotel
- Drone Inspections Could Keep Us All Safe from Falling Bricks
- Update on New York Blood Center Proposal
- Indoor Dining Suspended
- Covid-19 Testing on Roosevelt Island
- The Covid-19 Vaccine is Here
- Eviction Moratorium Extended
- Free Mask Distributions
- Flu Shot Information
- Play Tennis at Sutton East for $10, Apply for Tennis Scholarship
- New York Juniors Tennis & Learning Fall Schedule
- New York City Board of Elections Appointments and Voter Assistance Commission
- Voter Registration Deadlines
BUDGET & EQUITY
- NYC IBO Releases Annual Suggestions for Budget Savings
- Hearing on City Procurement Portal (PASSport)
- Celebrating the Holidays During the Pandemic
- Virtual Holiday Party Recap and Sutton Area Community Tree Lighting
- Manhattan Community Board 2021 Application Now Available
- 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 Virtual SEL Student Workshops for NYC DOE Educators
- 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
Let’s Put City Government in the Hands of the People, Literally
As you may have read in the New York Daily News, I want to put government in your pocket. Legislation I introduced would make civic engagement easier for New York City residents by forcing the City to create a mobile app that publicizes participation information for every City government meeting, whether virtual or in person. Currently, if you want to make your voice heard, you have to find information on where to attend a public hearing or submit testimony, or check the City register, Community Board websites, or any number of places to learn how. I want to fix all of that with a civic participation framework and online app that makes it easy to engage in New York City.
Following record turnout during the November general elections people have been reaching out about how to get involved, and I'm hoping this legislation can help more New Yorkers do just that. Read more in our release at BenKallos.com/press-release or see coverage by the New York Daily News.
Pushing for Universal Internet Access as Mayor de Blasio Reignites Campaign Promise
I joined Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams to announce the release of a new white paper titled “Bridging the Digital Divide for Every New Yorker with a Universal Internet Guarantee.” The report notes how reliable a high-speed Internet connection has become a basic need for every New Yorker for remote learning, working from home, virtual socializing, and more. This need has become especially acute amid a deadly pandemic that has placed severe limitations on people’s ability to safely gather in-person. I spoke about how to address this challenge with Gotham Gazette:
“A revenue-first approach to the internet, whether through a franchise or a kiosk, is not the model we should have...We should have a model that prioritizes connectivity.”
To deliver truly Universal Broadband, we need several fixes at once. We could start with rezoning to require affordable Internet Mandatory Inclusionary Internet, just like we required affordable housing with Mandatory Inclusionary Housing. We could offer incentives for 5G providers to offer affordable access. We can require cable providers to expand affordable Internet offerings we already won to every single low-income New Yorker. And if the providers won't do it, we can take over their networks and do it ourselves by establishing a Municipal Broadband network. We can upgrade existing infrastructure by speeding along the conversion of old payphones into free Internet kiosks and add WiFi to bus stops. We can even open up the city government’s wireless network to the public.
The pandemic has shown us the importance of giving every public school student who needs one a laptop with affordable broadband in the home to eliminate the homework gap and give a whole new generation a real chance at equity. Where all else fails, for those we still haven’t reached in low-income communities of color, we must invest the millions promised by the Mayor in businesses owned and operated by women and people of color to spur innovation and connect every last New Yorker.
Over the years, Borough President Adams and I have both been vocal about the City’s and private sector’s failures to provide Internet access to the communities that need it most, and we see our new report as a comprehensive roadmap for achieving universal Internet access in New York City. For more, read our press release at BenKallos.com/press-release or see coverage by Kings County Politics and Gotham Gazette.
Cutting the Ribbon on a New Food Pantry for the Upper East Side
Last month, I cut the ribbon to welcome the new Urban Outreach Center on the Upper East Side dedicated to feeding and caring for residents in need, alongside members of the Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services (ETHOS), including Avenue Church NYC Senior Pastor the Rev. Beverly Dempsey, Urban Outreach Center Executive Director the Rev. Jordan Tarwater, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, and Commissioner for Homeless Services Steve Banks.
As amNY reported, the brand new site at 1745 First Avenue features a supermarket-style food pantry allowing individuals the comfort of choosing from available foods just as if it were a regular supermarket, which we hope will add dignity and a sense of normalcy for people receiving fresh produce and other supplies from the food pantry. For more information, read the release or see coverage by ABC7, AMNY, New York County Politics and Patch.
To donate to or volunteer at Urban Outreach Center, visit uocnyc.org
Plan for Tower on Stilts Laid to Rest Thanks to Local Advocacy
We won! When we first saw the “Jetsons” building at 249 East 62nd St., which was a 32-story building that turned out to be 510 feet tall because of a 150-foot void, we led a citywide rezoning to stop empty spaces in buildings. No sooner did we do that than the developer took the walls off to create a second loophole for buildings on "stilts." Now the plan for the "Tower on Stilts" has been scrapped too. I told Our Town:
“While it’s a win for the community, it doesn’t stop the next developer from coming around and trying the same loophole.”
Thank you to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Keith Powers, Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts and everyone who supported us in doing the right thing and stopping this tower on stilts from taking up space that could be used to house real New Yorkers. For more information, see coverage by Our Town.
To support us in the fight against voids, sign our petition at BenKallos.com/CommercialVoids
NYCHA Tops Public Advocate’s Worst Landlords of 2020 List
I’ve known it all along, but Public Advocate Jumaane Williams’s Worst Landlords of 2020 List confirmed that public housing facilities have the most housing violations in New York City, making Mayor de Blasio the worst slumlord of them all. That’s why I’ve always fought to fully fund our public housing. The buck stops with us, so we have a responsibility to improve conditions for our public housing residents. Without federal or state government pulling their weight, we need to fully fund public housing out of the city budget.
Targeting Disparity in Proposal for New Comprehensive Planning Framework for NYC
I joined New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson in issuing the Planning Together report, which exposes the failures of the City’s long-term planning processes, and explores trends and national best practices for long-term planning. The report proposes a new comprehensive planning framework for New York City, which is the basis for accompanying legislation that Speaker Johnson and I are sponsoring, designed specifically to help correct neighborhood disparities and decades of disinvestment in communities of color by supporting equitable growth to create a more resilient and inclusive City.
This legislation amends the Charter to create a new ten-year comprehensive planning cycle for New York City consistent with the recommendations of the report, requiring the city to streamline its planning mandates into a single process. The City’s strategic planning, budget, and land use planning process is currently spread out over a dozen documents, reports, and plans already required by local law. The legislation will also require the City to connect its policy and land use planning to the City’s budget priorities since, right now, there is no meaningful connection, which undermines NYC's ability to achieve citywide goals of equity and sustainability.
To address these issues, the report proposes a ten-year comprehensive planning framework.
Specifically, the ten-year comprehensive planning framework will:
- Center racial and economic justice within a full range of budget, land use, and policy tools;
- Meaningfully connect the City’s budget, land use, and strategic planning processes;
- Streamline and increase the utility of more than a dozen planning and budget-related documents, reports, and plans already required by the City Charter;
- Require the City to regularly review and report on the current conditions of the City, including an assessment of short- and long-term risks, economic and racial disparities, the impacts of recent development and investment decisions, and a thorough assessment of current infrastructure needs;
- Integrate citywide and community-based planning, through requirements for on-going robust public engagement and the creation of new representative decision-making bodies;
- Set measurable citywide and district-level targets for housing, jobs, open space, resiliency infrastructure, schools, transportation, and other infrastructure;
- Develop a proactive land use plan for all of New York City’s neighborhoods in partnership with communities, prioritizing any projected growth in areas with high access to opportunity and low risk of displacement;
- Identify and prioritize communities’ urgent budget needs, regardless of whether or not those neighborhoods will be rezoned;
- Require the City to regularly review and update zoning policy in response to the successes, failures, and unintended consequences of the City’s rezoning decisions;
- Require the City to produce a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) to evaluate the impacts of the Long-Term Plan and incentivize development that is consistent with the plan by reducing developers’ projects costs;
- Incentivize rezonings, development, and infrastructure spending that align with the City’s Long-Term Plan;
- Increase and improve coordination across City agencies to create efficiencies in government to achieve citywide goals; and
- Implement strong reporting and oversight measures to hold every Mayor accountable to the Long-Term Plan’s commitments and priorities.
The City Council’s adoption of the long-term plan will ensure that it represents a vision for New York City shared across Mayoral agencies, elected officials, and the New Yorkers that they represent that sufficiently addresses citywide needs. For more information, read the press release at BenKallos.com/press-release.
Court Battle Continues over Homeless Men at Lucerne Hotel
Our Mayor and City cannot move people around like pawns on a chessboard just because they are homeless. In late November, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled the City had the right to relocate the 240 or so homeless men sheltered at the Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side to the Radisson in the Financial District. Since then that ruling has been appealed and the issue remains in court.
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. I told New York County Politics:
“I would like to see folks following the model we have on the Eastside, where we’ve opened hotels and beds for the homeless, and done so with little fanfare and without any community opposition.”
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. For more information, see coverage by New York County Politics.
Drone Inspections Could Keep Us All Safe from Falling Bricks
We joined operating engineers from Local 15 at their training center near JFK airport to learn how the City can use drones to inspect our building and keep people safe from falling bricks. Thanks to Local Law 102, the City is studying the use of drones for this purpose and we are working on new legislation to introduce immediately to authorize it.
Update on New York Blood Center Proposal
Our Town reported on the latest updates with the proposed Blood Center Expansion Project. Last month, we shared this proposal for a 334-foot tall tower that would impact sunlight in St. Catherine's Park together with invitations to speak at Community Board 8 and ask questions at the scoping session for the proposal’s Environmental Impact Study.
Since then, Community Board 8 voted 16–1 to oppose the project. As TAPinto reported, nearly a dozen residents joined me at my monthly First Friday meeting to express their concerns for the project. All of them supported the Blood Center increasing its height and density threefold within its existing footprint but had concerns about the impact that increasing the size of the project tenfold would have on the Park across the street. You can learn more about the community's response in Our Town.
There is still time to add your voice to the scoping. Public testimony is due December 31st. You can read my testimony from the Environmental Scoping Session at BenKallos.com/press-releases
I want to hear from you on whether you support, oppose, or have suggestion to improve the proposal. Please share your position at BenKallos.com/petition/BloodCenter
Indoor Dining Suspended
Under a statewide mandate by Governor Cuomo, as of December 14th, indoor dining is suspended in New York City until further notice. This mandate applies to:
- Catering halls
- Manufacturers with tasting rooms
Under the State’s rules, customers may enter the inside of a licensed establishment to order and pick up food until 10:00pm daily, to use the restroom and if the establishment has a licensed outdoor area accessible only through an interior space, during which customers are required to wear face coverings. For more information on these guidelines, visit nyc.gov.
For breaking coverage and updates on the latest Covid-19 restrictions, follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Covid-19 Testing on Roosevelt Island
Back in May of this year, my office brought Covid-19 testing to Roosevelt Island. After receiving a lot of positive response from the community, we began working to bring it back for back before the year ended. In December I was proud to work with the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer to make sure testing was once again available on Roosevelt Island.
The Covid-19 Vaccine Is Here
So far the Food and Drug Administration has approved and released two vaccines to fight Covid-19. Throughout New York state, tens of thousands of first doses of the vaccines have already been administered to first responders, healthcare workers and seniors living in nursing homes as part of phase 1 of the state distribution plan.
This December, 274,200 doses of the vaccine were reserved for New York City with 175,525 delivered as of the 27th, and more than 55,000 already receiving their first dose. Covid-19 vaccines may not be widely available to the general public until mid-2021.
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.
For more information on the vaccine visit nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-vaccines.page
Eviction Moratorium to Be Extended
Following our advocacy and a movement of advocates, elected officials and tenants statewide, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to extend the moratorium on evictions. Both commercial and residential evictions will be banned as Covid-19 cases continue to rise throughout the City and state during this second wave.
Free Mask Distributions
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:
- Carnegie Hill Neighbors – Details pending, for updates check BenKallos.com/events
- Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center (RSVP) – Thursday, January 14th, 11:00am–11:30pm, 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.
Flu Shot Information
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
Play Tennis at Sutton East for $10, Apply for Tennis Scholarship
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 email@example.com 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.
New York Juniors Tennis & Learning Fall Schedule
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
Save Our Compost
I joined the Save Our Compost campaign to push the City and Mayor to restore this organization's budget in order to keep them up and running helping green New York City.
New York City Board of Elections Appointments and Voter Assistance Commission
I want to thank the millions of New Yorkers who turned out to vote, waited hours in the rain, to cast their vote, you are heroes of democracy during this last election. But the truth is there was no reason that voting needs to be so hard, no reason it should be so hard to register, so hard to vote. Despite calls to blow up the New York City Board of Elections from the Governor and Mayor de Blasio, we are still stuck with the same broken system. As a Council Member with a vote on the appointment of Commissioners to the Board of Elections, I will use my power to demand that anyone I vote for do the right thing. I have taken the time to meet with all three Democratic Commissioner for New York, Staten Island, and the Bronx and they have all agreed to the following:
- Reduce long lines
- Fix broken voting machines
- Expand the number of early voting sites
- Take on patronage at the Board of Elections
- Support the implementation of laws I authored to enfranchise voters, including Local Law 238 of 2017 to provide online voter registration and Local Law 65 of 2016 that would have provided tracking of absentee ballots from request, to mailing, to receipt by the Board of Elections. (Since our conversations, the tracker has mostly been implemented.)
In December, I also testified before the Voter Assistance Advisory Committee on all of these topics in addition to adding more poll sites and Ranked Choice Voting. Read parts of my remarks at BenKallos.com/press-releases
Voter Registration Deadlines
Verify your voter registration before it is too late at NYCVoterSearch.com.
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.
BUDGET & EQUITY
NYC IBO Releases Annual Suggestions for Budget Savings
I have long believed that the government is wasting billions of dollars and even proposed $15 billion of pork to cut, but you don’t have to take my word for it. The city’s Independent Budget Office agrees and they proposed a slew of cuts, some I agree with and others that I don’t. I was quoted by the Daily News:
“If only the city would listen, we could save so much money.”
See for yourself by reading the report at ibo.nyc.ny.us, or read coverage by the New York Daily News.
Hearing on City Procurement Portal (PASSport)
As chair of the Committee on Contracts, I held a hearing on the digital Procurement and Sourcing Solutions Portal (PASSport), the City’s portal for improving how it conducts business. We asked a lot of questions about the new system, which you can see for yourself at BenKallos.com/videos
If you want to do business with the City, particularly if you are or have a business that is owned by women or people of color, we are happy to help. Please email Contracts@BenKallos.com.
Celebrating the Holidays During the Pandemic
I joined State Senator Brian Benjamin and State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar in sharing my holiday traditions with New York County Politics, as they reported on New York City's diversity and how it plays a role in our politics as elected officials and how we each celebrate customs and traditions with staff and residents.
“We make potato pancakes, play dreidel [top game] with my daughter, and light the Chanukiah [menorah] as a family,” said Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side, Yorkville, Lenox Hill) of his family’s traditional Hanukah celebration.
How did you spend your holidays?
Virtual Holiday Party Recap and Sutton Area Community Tree Lighting
It was a real holiday treat being able to celebrate this time of the year with constituents even if we had to do it virtually. Huge thank you to Chashama, New York Classical Theatre, Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance and all the other artists who performed in our virtual holiday party. This year, Council Member Keith Powers and I did get the opportunity to join members of the Sutton Area Community for their annual tree lighting event.
Free Legal Clinics
Need a lawyer? Every month I sponsor legal clinics where you can get free legal advice. These clinics usually take place at my District Office but, 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.
Please call my office at 212-860-1950 or email ConstituentService@BenKallos.com with the subject "Requesting Legal Clinic" to make appointments to meet by phone.
Here to Help
We are here to help. My social work team can help you find out what services you are eligible for and assist you in your application. Some examples include:
- Seniors: Medicare savings, Meals-on-Wheels, Access-A-Ride
- Housing: searching for affordable units, free legal housing clinic at my office
- Job Resources: training resources and assistance, unemployment benefits
- Families: Universal Pre-K, Head Start, After-School programs
- Finances: cash assistance, tax credits, home energy assistance
- Nutrition: WIC, free meals for all ages
Please also call us at 212-860-1950 or email us at BKallos@BenKallos.com with any unresolved 311 complaints.
Help the Homeless
In March, I joined Communities United for Police Reform in an open letter to the Mayor calling on the City to take care of New York City’s homeless population during the Covid-19 outbreak. Read the full letter at Changethenypd.org/protect-homeless-covid-full-letter-cuomo-de-blasio
Back in 2016, I launched the Eastside Task Force for Homeless Outreach and Services (ETHOS) with Borough President Brewer, Senator Krueger, Council Member Garodnick, Department of Social Services (DSS), community and faith leaders and service organizations. We’ve already been able to help a chronically homeless individual in the community who we believe had long been suffering from mental illness, after a resident was willing to come forward working with me, the 19th Precinct, the District Attorney and DSS to get them the help they needed. We hope to get every unsheltered person living on the street the help they need. If you see one of our City’s most vulnerable on the street, please call 311 or use the NYC 311 App (Android/iPhone) to ask them to dispatch a “homeless outreach team.” They will ask where you saw the person, what they looked like, and offer report on whether the person accepts our city’s offer of shelter, three meals a day, health care, rehabilitation, and job training. By connecting our dedicated nonprofits and religious institutions with city services, ETHOS is really making a difference. For more information, visit BenKallos.com/Homelessness
Manhattan Community Board 2021 Application Now Available
The Manhattan Borough President's office is currently accepting applications for Community Board memberships. The application deadline is Monday, February 1st, 2021 at 5pm.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
For more information on HEAP, such as eligibility qualifications and how to apply, visit ny.gov. For help applying, reach out to us at BKallos@BenKallos.com.
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 Virtual SEL Student Workshops for NYC DOE Educators
The Child Mind Institute’s Student Success Program would like to invite NYC DOE educators to enroll in its virtual asynchronous Social Emotional Learning (SEL) student workshops. This virtual series is available for students K-12 and includes 6 SEL workshops, which are delivered through Flipgrid.
The SEL workshops address the following topics:
- Understanding Feelings
- Relaxation Skills
- Managing Thoughts
- Social Problem Solving
- Managing Intense Emotions
- Mindfulness Practice
Each workshop has been divided into short video segments. A clinician assigned to your class will prompt students to submit a video reflection for each workshop. Your clinician will also provide video feedback or written comments to all students once they have submitted their responses via the Flipgrid platform. Interested NYC DOE educators can register here.
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.
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, email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 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 respite
This program is supported by a grant from the New York State Department of Health and is available to all New York City residents.
For more information, call 646-754-2277 or visit NYUlangone.org/memorydisordersupport
New York Legal Assistance Group COVID-19 Legal Resource Hotline
In response to the global pandemic that has affected so many New Yorkers, the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) continues to run its COVID-19 Legal Resource Hotline. Due to the surge in need for legal services in areas such as unemployment, housing, employee rights, public benefits, and consumer debt, NYLAG recently expanded their hotline hours to 7am–1pm.