Below is a re-post of Ben Kallos' City Council newsletter. The original can be found here.
Reusable Bag Giveaway
Thursday, 11/12, 3:30PM
Thursday, 11/17, 10:15AM
Blackwell House Ribbon-cutting
Thursday, 11/12, 11AM
Sunday, 11/22, 10AM
E72NA Love Your Neighborhood Day
Saturday, 11/7, 10AM
Friday, 11/6, 8AM - 10AM
Fresh Food Box
Thursdays through 11/19,
3:30PM - 6:30PM
Face Mask and Hand Sanitizer Distribution
Dates and times vary by location
Schedule a Phone or Video Call
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Last Chance to Vote is Tomorrow (Election Day)
- Securing Commitments from the Newest Appointment to the Board of Elections
- Do We Have Enough PPE in the NYC Stockpile?
- Proposing a Worker-Led Recovery by Instituting a Prevailing Wage for Nonprofit Employees
- 77K Students Lack Learning Devices, My New Bill Would Give One to Every Student
- Cutting the Ribbon on the District’s First French Dual Language Program for Pre-K Students
- Apply for and Help Secure Remote Learning Centers
- Reusable Bag Giveaway
- Virtual First Friday
- Fresh Food Box
- Free Mask Distributions
- Flu Shot Information
- East 72nd Neighborhood Association's Love Your Neighborhood Day
- Turkey Giveaway
- Ribbon-cutting for Blackwell House
JOBS & ECONOMY
- Outdoor Dining Legislation Passes
- Learn About Contract Opportunities with the City & State at the Public Project Forum
- Demanding Funding for Alternative Schooling with Learning to Work
- Welcoming the Next Generation of Tech Developers at Silicon Harlem’s Virtual Summit
ENVIRONMENT & TRANSPORTATION
- Getting Closer to More Pedestrian Space on the Queensboro Bridge
- Single-Use Bag Reduction Goes into Effect, Get Your Free Reusable Bag
- Rallying to Pass Legislation for Cleaner Air
- Joining the Clean Bus Coalition to Fight for Electric School Buses Citywide
- Securing Climate Industry Jobs for New Yorkers with the Climate Works for All Coalition
- Masks Distributed to 15K Residents in a Month, Thanks to Community Organization Partnership
- Highlights from our Annual Senior Health Fair
- Raising Awareness to Save Manhattan’s Oldest Dojo
- Removing Falsified Anti-Protester Signage from Carl Schurz Park
- Mobilizing Youth Voters with Students at Stuyvesant
- ESNA Virtual Annual Meeting
- Participatory Budgeting: Decide How to Spend $1 Million in Our Community
- MV4NY Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive
- Two Shows Left for SummerStage 2020
- Free Virtual Arts Classes for NYC Youth with Virtual Culture
- Tips for Rideshare Safety
- Feerick Center Virtual Veterans Legal Clinic
- Apply for Heating and Cooling Assistance (HEAP)
- New-York Historical Society Reopens
- Girls on the Run: Support & Wellness Program for Third to Eighth Graders
- Read to Lead Makes Learning Fun for Middle Schoolers
- Apply for the Sutton East Tennis Scholarship
- New York Juniors Tennis & Learning Fall Schedule
- Search and Care Counseling Program: “Talkin’ it Out”
- Housing Court Answers Hiring a Full-time Hotline Specialist
- Join the New Housing Connect for 2,500 Re-Rentals Thanks to My Law
- Central Synagogue’s Grab-and-Go Food Program
- Help Wanted for the American Red Cross’s Disaster Sheltering & Hurricane Season Readiness
- NYU Langone Health’s Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias Family Support Program
- New York Legal Assistance Group COVID-19 Legal Resource Hotline
Last Chance to Vote is Tomorrow, Election Day
Tomorrow is Election Day. If you did not vote early or by mail, this is your last chance to participate in the most important election of our lifetime.
Polls are open Tuesday, November 3rd from 6am–9pm.
Find or confirm your polling site at voterlookup.elections.ny.gov
You can drop off your absentee ballot at a local borough office or at ANY poll site no later than November 3rd by 9pm. Thanks to a law I authored, you can track your absentee ballot at NYCabsentee.com/tracking
If you have questions about voting, they may have been answered at our Election Information Session on October 14th. Watch it on YouTube or Facebook.
Securing Commitments from the Newest Appointment to the Board of Elections
New York City’s Board of Elections is deeply flawed. As you may have read in Gothamist, I was the only Council Member to speak on approvals of two Commissioners of the deeply broken Board of Elections. I used my vote to secure promises from both candidates that they would:
- 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:
State law mandates the number of early voting sites in any county, which does not take into consideration the population density of that county. With only 7 sites required and a current 16 early voting sites for all of Manhattan, each serving 100,000 people, and only one site for the Upper East Side and Harlem, it’s no wonder why residents have complained of blocks-long lines at the polls. As I recently told WCBS:
“New York state must update the early voting law to require early voting sites for specific numbers of people.”
The New York City Board of Elections continues to be the biggest impediment to free and fair elections. We need to remove the partisan stranglehold of patronage over our elections.
Do We Have Enough PPE in the NYC Stockpile?
I co-chaired a hearing on the city’s 90-day personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpile where I asked questions on the Mayor’s alleged abuse of emergency powers, allegations of sweetheart deals for donors, a failure to meet mandates that left businesses owned by women and people of color with fewer contracts, locally sourcing our PPE, and perhaps most importantly, understanding our stockpile and its distribution.
It took a hearing, but I was able to force the administration to share the numbers:
- 13.5 million N95 masks
- 37 million Level 3 isolation gowns
- 54 million 3-ply surgical masks
- 185 million nitrile gloves,
- 900,000 goggles
- 6 million face shields
As chair of the Committee on Contracts, in my questioning on the City's pandemic response during the height of Covid-19 and over the last 7 months I pushed the Mayor's Office of Contract Services (MOCS) to explain controversial contracts the City has entered into with companies like Digital Gadgets, which were discovered to be de Blasio campaign donors who failed to deliver on ventilators they contracted to provide. Not to mention a $91.5 million contract with Woodhull Medical Services that I criticized in Crain's earlier this year for failing to fulfill its contract. The administration replied by saying that any parts of the contracts that were not fulfilled, the City did not pay for. So a contract potentially worth $120 million was reduced down to $9 million and the other was reduced to hundreds of thousands, saving the taxpayers over $200 million.
I was also able to get answers on the amount of money awarded to businesses owned by women and people of color (MWBE) as part of the Covid-19 response. According to MOCS, 14% of the $1.2 billion spent on PPE procurement was awarded to MWBEs, amounting to roughly $900 million. The administration admitted that New York City did not have the local PPE production capability to provide for all of its residents and that it was aware we could not import our way out of the next wave. We need more local sources so MWBEs are encouraged to reach out to Help@MOCS.nyc.gov and Contracts@BenKallos.com.
As part of the hearing, we also heard from frontline workers in labor unions including nurses, attendants, and cleaning staff in our public hospitals who had to ration PPE, were not provided PPE, and were even forced to wear garbage bags. Public hospital workers who are required to enter confined spaces with Covid-19 positive patients begged for N95 masks and more effective PPE so that their workers, who are majority people of color, would not have to pay for city cost savings with their lives. Doctors and nurses proposed cost savings with sustainable PPE in the form of elastomeric respirators, which would not leave scars in the same way as disposable N95 masks that aren't meant to be worn for 8 hours a day. Pulmonary Doctor Steven Miller at Brooklyn Hospital Center testified as to his fundraising and cost savings for using these reusable elastomeric masks.
Now, the question that remains: is this enough for New York City? Let us know at Coronavirus@BenKallos.com. For more information, see coverage by 1010 Wins.
Proposing a Worker-Led Recovery by Instituting a Prevailing Wage for Nonprofit Employees
As the Daily News reported, I recently proposed legislation that would facilitate a worker-led recovery by raising wages for 200,000 human service employees who work at non-profits that are contracted to the city.
New York City provides services to millions of youths, seniors, homeless, and veterans in poverty through human service nonprofits whose government contracts ironically pay workers poverty wages. Per my legislation, the Comptroller would work with the human services sector to determine the average wage or adopt a collectively bargained wage for new contracts. Once prevailing wage rates are adopted, the city would be required to fully fund wage increases as part of new contracts, modifications, or renewals increasing overall funds to non-profits providing vital human services.
“We need to actually invest in paying our Black and Brown human service workers and women of color a prevailing wage so that they can afford to live in the city,” I told the Daily News.
Currently, we are operating in a system where social workers, case managers and other human service professionals, sometimes even with advanced degrees, earn significantly less than building services workers or security guards at the same organization. Pay is so low that 60% of those working in the human services sector were utilizing or had a family member utilizing some form of public assistance benefit, such as Medicaid or food stamps. This is because some of the job titles that have benefited most from prevailing wage laws served predominantly blue-collar workers who are mostly male, exacerbating the gender pay gap.
It is time for the City to finally pay these service providers and their workers the wages they deserve. For more information, see coverage by TAPinto the New York Daily News.
77K Students Lack Learning Devices, My New Bill Would Give One to Every Student
With every single one of New York City’s 1.1 million public school students learning online partially or fully, the Department of Education estimates that there are still upwards of 77,000 students who still need internet-capable devices, despite repeated assurances from Mayor Bill de Blasio that “every student who needs one gets one.” Legislation I authored with Council Member Farah Louis, sponsored by Education Chair Mark Treyger, Borough Presidents Eric Adams and Gale Brewer, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Council Member Stephen Levin, would force the city to give free laptops and tablets with Internet to all public school students and to report on the quantity, costs, distribution and demographics of students receiving devices.
Since the start of the pandemic in March and the transition to remote learning, parents and students have expressed their inability to access to high-speed internet and a lack of adequate remote learning devices, allowing for the exacerbation of racial disparities in student engagement with remote learning. In April, the Department of Education spent over $269 million on 300,000 iPads, equipped with T-Mobile LTE for $10 a mobile. The number of devices distributed, the number of students who received devices, and the number actually used, remain outstanding. Last month, the City Council even had to subpoena the Department of Education for remote attendance data.
My proposed legislation would mandate the DOE to report by September 1st of each year on the number of:
- Laptops in stock and distributed, including breakdowns by cost, type of device and connectivity capabilities
- Source of funding from foundations, elected official discretionary funds, together with costs
- Existing household Internet connections (cable, fiber, 4G/5G, Internet Assist) and devices (desktop, laptop, tablet)
- Demographics of the recipient including race, gender, and housing status (permanent housing, temporary housing, shelter)
The legislation would also mandate that devices come loaded with culturally responsive open digital textbooks. This comes on the heels of an opinion editorial that I wrote with Silicon Harlem’s Clayton Banks in which we proposed saving $84 million and rooting out racial injustice in the classroom by doing away with textbooks that too often perpetuate notions of white supremacy through a narrow focus on the achievements of white men.
For more information, read the press release or see coverage by the New York Post and WCBS.
Cutting the Ribbon on the District’s First French Dual Language Program for Pre-K Students
After an 8-month 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 on September 21st with seats for 36 pre-K students. The Department of Education is operating these classes using a side-by-side instructional model where it will have one Early Childhood-certified teacher who is fluent in French and who has or will work towards a bilingual extension, alongside a second Early Childhood-certified teacher.
Our fight first began in December of 2019 when I joined Community Education District Superintendent Donalda Chumney in a meeting at Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, during which dozens of parents expressed the need for a French dual language program. After the meeting I worked with organizers to host a petition that more than 200 parents signed, pledging to send their children to the program. When I shared the results of the petition, the Department of Education (DOE) agreed to meet with the Francophone community on March 3rd, again at Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, where French-speaking parents from New York City, Canada, Africa, and even France itself made their case for a French dual language program to a receptive DOE. A week later, we announced the creation of the two French dual language classes at the pre-K center located at 355 East 76th Street.
With the initial barriers broken down and the support of the Francophone community, our next fight is expanding French dual language program to elementary schools in the district. If you are a parent who would like to see the Department of Education implement French dual language programming for public elementary schools in School District 2 serving the Upper East Side, visit BenKallos.com/petition/french-dual-language
Apply for and Help Secure Remote Learning Centers
Over the summer, Mayor de Blasio adopted my remote learning centers proposal, covered in the New York Post. The Learning Bridges program promised to provide a space for supervised remote learning for up to 100,000 students in pre-K to 8th grade on days when they are not learning in-person. Council Member Brad Lander joined me in expressing that there were not enough seats in another letter covered in the New York Post. When schools reopened with only 3,600 remote learning seats available, I shared my dismay in the New York Post and called for them to do better.
Last month, we learned that there is only one Learning Bridges site in all of Community Board 8 at a hearing with the board, with 60 seats to serve 9 elementary schools with more than 4,000 students.
Roosevelt Island doesn’t have a site at all, with students as young as 3 assigned to the Vanderbilt YMCA and forced to commute nearly 30 minutes in each direction by train or tram to midtown. We are working closely with Island Kids, a childcare provider on Roosevelt Island that applied to become a Learning Bridges site, and I even asked the Chancellor directly for more sites with the Deputy Chancellor pledging to work with us. On Sunday November 1st we held a rally with Island Kids, parents, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, and acting RIOC President Shelton Hayes. You can add your name to more than one hundred neighbors to demand the city bring Learning Bridges to Roosevelt Island.
We need your help to open remote learning centers to serve parents and children during this pandemic:
- Co-op, condo, and building owners - Do you have a space with at least 1,000 square feet and on the first, second or basement level? If so, you may qualify to host a Learning Bridges site and we can help match you with a provider.
- Child Care Providers - Are you a private or non-profit provider that is able to operate a new Learning Bridges site? Do you need a new location? Did you submit an application and are waiting to be matched with one of the existing sites?
- Parents: Have you applied for Learning Bridges and been turned away or assigned to a site that is too far for travel? You can still apply at prek4all.com
Working together with the parents association, providers and building owners, we were able to secure 1,100 pre-K seats for the district. We’ve done it before and we will do it again. If you are interested in helping to open new remote learning sites in the district, email Education@benkallos.com
Reusable Bag Giveaway
To discourage the use of single-use plastic bags, we are giving away free reusable bags. Come by and get yours on:
Thursday, November 12 from 3:30–5:00pm outside of my district office at 244 E 93rd St. RSVP
Tuesday, November 17 from 10:15–11:15am in front of Fairway on 86th St. and 2nd Ave. RSVP
RSVP now to reserve your bag at BenKallos.com/events
Virtual First Friday
First Friday Online
Friday, November 6th, 8am–10am
First Friday remains one of my favorite parts of my job as your Council Member. Though my office remains physically closed for everyone’s safety, we are still working remotely and remain here to help. Thank you to all the residents who participated in last month’s virtual First Friday.
You must RSVP by Thursday, November 5th 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
Through the partnership with my office, GrowNYC’s Fresh Food Box program has been providing affordable, healthy food since 2016. In September, Fresh Food Box returned to District 5 for the 2020 season!
This year, there's a new customer registration form that only takes 2-5 minutes to fill out, but must be completed before purchasing a box for pick-up. Once submitted, your name will be on file for all future 2020 Fresh Food Box purchases at the District 5 location. Participants will still need to come to the site to pay for a box at least one week before picking it up.
Due to COVID-19, GrowNYC has implemented the following new safety protocols:
- Customers are encouraged to pay with credit card. The $1 transaction fee is temporarily waived. Unfortunately, Apple Pay and Venmo are not accepted at this time.
- Wearing a face mask or other face covering across your nose and mouth is required in order to receive service.
- Please maintain 6-ft distance from GrowNYC staff, volunteers, fellow Food Box customers, and passerby.
The last Fresh Food Box distribution date of the season for this site is November 19.
For more information, or if you have any questions, visit grownyc.org/district-5.
Free Mask Distributions
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
- East 86th Street Neighborhood Association (RSVP) – Thursday, November 12th, 12pm–1pm, 86th St. and 2nd Ave, NE corner
- Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center (RSVP) – Thursday, November 5th, 11:00am–12:30pm, 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
Thanksgiving is just weeks away. As in past years, in collaboration with New York Common Pantry, I will be delivering free turkeys to residents in my district living in New York City Housing Authority developments on Tuesday, November 24th. Last year we gave out over 150 turkeys, which were paid for by funds allocated by my office. Families residing at Stanley Isaacs, Holmes Towers, Lexington Houses, and Robbins Plaza received the turkeys. I also visited seniors at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House ahead of Thanksgiving to wish them a happy holiday.
If you live in a NYCHA development in Council District 5 and want a turkey this year, call my office next at 212-860-1950 to get on the list. You can also get additional food by joining the New York Common Pantry at nycommonpantry.org.
East 72nd Neighborhood Association's Love Your Neighborhood Day
On Saturday, November 7th at 10am, East 72nd Neighborhood Association will be hosting a Love Your Neighborhood Day in partnership with my office. We look forward to seeing members of the community there!
Logistical details will be provided once participants have RSVP'd. For questions, email email@example.com and to RSVP, visit docs.google.com/forms.
Ribbon-cutting for Blackwell House
Come out on Saturday, November 12 at 11am as I join the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation in cutting the ribbon on the newly renovated Blackwell House, one of the island’s six historical landmarks. Once open, areas of Blackwell House will become home to some of the island’s historical treasures, records, and archives. The first floor will be open to the public during specified days and hours of the week for viewings and tours.
We invite the community to share in this socially distanced ribbon-cutting ceremony. RSVP now at BenKallos.com/events.
All those yellowing, moldy docs of yours? Tax forms? Checks? Get ‘em industrial-grade shredded for free at the Shred-A-Thon on November 22nd,10am - 2pm at the corner of 92nd Street and 1st Avenue, opposite the 92nd Street Greenmarket. For more information, visit BenKallos.com/events
JOBS & ECONOMY
Outdoor Dining Legislation Passes
Outdoor dining is now a permanent fixture of New York City with the City Council passing the law I co-sponsored by a vote of 46 to 2. When residents began congregating on streets just ahead of Memorial Day, I began demanding outdoor dining alongside Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council Member Keith Powers until the “Open Restaurants” program was introduced. Mayor de Blasio previously announced that the program will be extended year-round and made permanent. I am proud to share that the legislation we passed will extend outdoor dining through September 2021, before replacing it with a permanent program to allow for the use of roadway seating as outdoor dining areas. The Mayor made a promise to the people of New York City, so we passed a law to make sure it would happen.
Learn About Contract Opportunities with the City & State at the Public Project Forum
Join me at the Public Projects Forum on Thursday, November 10th from
9:00am–11:40am, where leaders in public and private partnership work will discuss the numerous opportunities for real estate, design and construction teams to do business with City and State public agencies. The topics that will be covered include MWBE opportunities, as well as creating a better culture for inclusion in public works and public-private
This event will provide a closer look at the City and State’s MWBE programs for firms looking to diversify the industry. PPP specialists will also discuss how to position your team for public works and public-private partnerships. To register and for more information, visit commercialobserver.com.
Demanding Funding for Alternative Schooling with Learning to Work
Welcoming the Next Generation of Tech Developers at Silicon Harlem’s Virtual Summit
I joined company founders Clayton Banks and Bruce Lincoln, as well as Congressman Espaillat, at Silicon Harlem’s annual Next Gen Tech Virtual Summit where I discussed our success in getting free broadband for all students at the start of the pandemic, our advocacy for culturally-inclusive textbooks and our work together moving forward, expanding opportunities in technology for women and people of color.
ENVIRONMENT & TRANSPORTATION
Getting Closer to More Pedestrian Space on the Queensboro Bridge
It’s time to finally give pedestrians the space and safety they need on the Queensboro Bridge. Last month, I continued advocating for the conversion of the South Outer roadway into a pedestrian-only walkway alongside Senators Gianaris and Ramos, Council Member Van Bramer and Borough President Gale Brewer, as we discussed the matter with Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg during a walk across the bridge. For more information, see coverage by Streetsblog and New York Daily News.
Single-Use Bag Reduction Goes into Effect, Get Your Free Reusable Bag
Though March may feel like a lifetime ago, you may recall when the statewide Bag Waste Reduction law took effect on March 1st. New Yorkers use 23 billion plastic bags per year, the vast majority of which are not recycled. Contributing 10 billion to that total, New York City transports 88,000 tons of plastic bags to landfills in other states each year. As a co-sponsor on the initial law that was delayed for years by Albany, I fully support diverting the use of wasteful single-use plastic bags and believe this bill will encourage New Yorkers to use fewer of them.
On October 19th, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation began enforcement of the Bag Waste Reduction law, after the pandemic and a lawsuit from plastic bag manufacturers caused a months-long delay. You can report a business providing plastic carryout bags by calling (518) 402-8706 or by filling out a complaint form and emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Pick up a free reusable bag, courtesy of my office and the Department of Sanitation:
- Thursday, November 12, 3:30–5:00pm, 244 E 93rd St. (RSVP)
- Tuesday, November 17, 10:15–11:15am, in front of Fairway on 93rd St. and 2nd Ave. (RSVP)
I can also bring them to you during your next cooperative or condominium meeting for Ben in Your Building—if you are interested, just email Scheduler@BenKallos.com.
Rallying to Pass Legislation for Cleaner Air
Last week, I rallied with Council Member Costa Constantinides in support of passing Int. 1947, which will build on the success of Local Law 97, better known as the Green New Deal, by making significant cuts to the City's air pollution and creating a healthier environment for all residents.
Joining the Clean Bus Coalition to Fight for Electric School Buses Citywide
I celebrated Children’s Health Day with the launch of the Clean Bus Coalition to fight for zero-emission electric school buses that protect the health of our children and our environment alongside the New York League of Conservation Voters, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and more.
Securing Climate Industry Jobs for New Yorkers with the Climate Works for All Coalition
I was proud to join ALIGN and NYC Environmental Justice Alliance for the launch of the Climate Works for All coalition, which offers a road map to create 100,000 jobs in the climate industry as we strive to meet the City’s 2050 climate goals.
Masks Distributed to 15K Residents in a Month, Thanks to Community Organization Partnership
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.
Highlights from our Annual Senior Health Fair
Raising Awareness to Save Manhattan's Oldest Dojo
When the pandemic took a toll on its business, the owner of Kokushi Budo started a GoFundMe to raise funds to keep the 57-year-old dojo afloat. As I told Our Town, the City has a responsibility to come up with guidance and tangible support so that, even amidst the uncertainty about the pandemic, small but significant businesses like Kokushi Budo don’t close for good.
Removing Falsified Anti-Protester Signage from Carl Schurz Park
When I learned that a falsified sign that read “no protesting allowed” was posted in Carl Schurz Park, I was baffled at the thought that anyone would go through the time and expense of having it made to stifle the free speech of others. As Patch reported, my office quickly worked with the City Parks Department and members of Community Board 8 to get the signage removed immediately and defend the right of residents to hold peaceful protests.
Mobilizing Youth Voters with Students at Stuyvesant
I had a great time answering questions from students at Stuyvesant High School on why it’s so important that everyone, but especially the youth, cast their ballot to guarantee the best turnout on Election Day.
ESNA Virtual Annual Meeting
I recently joined my friend Barry Schneider and the entire East Sixties Neighborhood Association for their annual meeting as we looked ahead to another year of collaborating for the betterment of the community.
Participatory Budgeting: Decide How to Spend $1 Million in Our Community
As Patch recently reported, Participatory Budgeting is back! Each year, I secure funds so the community can decide how it wants to make things better in our neighborhood. Residents in my district ages 14 and older can volunteer to shape this process. To learn more about Participatory Budgeting and how you can get involved in determining the way $1 million of your taxpayer dollars gets spent, visit BenKallos.com/PB.
We are always seeking new and bold ideas, so if you have a suggestion please submit it at BenKallos.com/PB/Propose.
All projects must be brick and mortar proposals that are within City Council District 5 and with a cost ranging from $50,000 to $500,000. If you have any questions, contact my office at PB@BenKallos.com.
MV4NY Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive
Muslim Volunteers for New York's 6th annual Thanksgiving Food Drive will commence on November 6th and run through November 15th. The drive is conducted to benefit the West Side Campaign Against Hunger (WSCAH), the New York Common Pantry, as well as, City Meals on Wheels, all of which we have supported for many years. Each of the beneficiaries serves a unique need for NYC’s food insecure communities which are precipitously rising in number and are more vulnerable than ever amid the pandemic. They are delighted to support each of these amazing organizations!
Covid-19 has been devastating for many, so let’s help our food insecure neighbors in need and spread the warmth of Thanksgiving! For more information, visit mv4ny.org.
Two Shows Left for SummerStage 2020
As SummerStage prepares to wrap up for the year, City Parks wants to share the final performances of 2020:
- Thursday, November 12th: Disco queen Gloria Gaynor will perform chart-topping hits from the past 40 years including "I Will Survive" and "I am What I Am" from 5-6pm [Facebook event listing]
- Thursday, November 19th: Singer-songwriter Sophie Allison aka Soccer Mommy with hits from Clean and Color Theory from 7-8pm. [Facebook event listing]
For more information on this program, visit CityParksFoundation.org/summerstage-anywhere.
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.
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
Feerick Center Virtual Veterans Legal Clinic
Fordham Law School’s Feerick Center for Social Justice and its Veteran Rights Project (FCVRP) will be hosting the third annual Veterans Day Clinic on November 5th and 6th via Zoom.
Volunteer lawyers with expertise in various civil legal issues will provide Know-Your-Rights presentations followed by limited-scope, one-on-one legal consultations to veterans and their family members. Topics are expected to include consumer debt, consumer bankruptcy, discharge upgrades, microenterprise, public benefits, tax, VA benefits, wills and end-of-life planning, and family law (particularly child support downward modifications).
These presentations will be followed by one-on-one consultations for military members and their families. For more information please contact email@example.com or 646-312-8725.
Apply for Heating and Cooling Assistance (HEAP)
Need help paying your energy bill? Starting 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.
New-York Historical Society Reopens
The New-York Historical Society has reopened its doors for indoor visits and now has timed-entry tickets to help maintain social distancing. It will be welcoming guests back with a full roster of special exhibitions, film experiences, and permanent galleries.
NYHS also invites guests to visit their new outdoor exhibit, Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine. Curated by poet and journalist Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman, the exhibit features more than 50 photographs taken by Hickman along with 14 audio interviews with the photographs’ subjects conducted by Powell during the team’s intensive two-day odyssey across the city on April 8–9, 2020; the audio will be accessible to visitors through their cell phones.
The exhibition is free and will be open through the end of November. You can book your tickets here at hopewanted.nyhistory.org.
Learn more about their safety measures at nyhistory.org/safety
Girls on the Run: Support & Wellness Program for Third to Eighth Graders
You can register your daughter now for the Girls on the Run this fall, with programs available for all girls in 3rd–5th and 6th-8th grade! Sign up at gotrnyc.org/register.
During the 8-week season, girls will come together in a safe virtual space with peers and trained coaches to have fun and build meaningful connections. To help girls nurture their physical and emotional health, the twice-weekly lessons will explore the importance of expressing our emotions, standing up for ourselves and others, and more, while also providing the opportunity for movement!
At-home journals will allow for every girl to connect to the lessons, and provide guidance for 20-30 minutes of physical activity and exercise for each girl to do with family, friends or alone (indoors or outdoors) in between each session!
Girls on the Run is a transformational physical activity-based, positive youth development program for girls of all abilities. Trained coaches teach life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games. The goal of the program is to unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness.
The season starts the week of September 29 for open, city-wide virtual teams that are available for any girl to register in. Financial assistance and payment plans are available, and Girl on the Run is committed to ensuring all girls who want to join can join. You can register at gotrnyc.org/register. For more information or questions about Girls on the Run, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Apply for the Sutton East Tennis Scholarship
Sutton East Tennis offers scholarships for children age 3-18 for its 2020-21 Fall/Winter programs, running from September 14, 2020 to April 11, 2021. 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 were an informal presence at the Octagon Park in Roosevelt Island this summer, providing the youth of your community with some much-needed physical activity and engagement.
The fall season just kicked off and 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
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.
Housing Court Answers Hiring a Full-time Hotline Specialist
Housing Court Answers (HCA) is a nonprofit organization committed to fighting for the rights of unrepresented litigants in Housing Court. Housing Court Answers provides information on landlord/tenant issues at information tables in NYC's five Housing Courts, through a hotline, and for NYCHA tenants at the impartial hearing office. HCA also works on policy issues surrounding Housing Court. For more information on the organization, visit their website at housingcourtanswers.org.
- Answering calls on the hotline. Assisting callers with rent arrears and eviction issues, utility arrears, public benefits problems or questions, questions about Housing Court and Housing Court procedures and questions about housing rights and responsibilities.
- Maintaining and updating a resource list of organizations that provide financial assistance to NYC residents with rent and utility arrears.
- Maintaining and updating a list of organizations that provide other kinds of assistance to callers, including community groups, non-profit housing organizations, legal service providers, community-based organizations and others.
- Identifying and reporting on new or unique problems and trends from callers to the hotline with a particular focus on systemic issues to be addressed through advocacy and/or impact litigation.
- Developing and updating information sheets and training materials on issues related to assisting hotline callers, including materials on public benefits and on getting assistance from charities and HRA.
- Training and educating fellow workers on hotline protocols and on assisting hotline callers; assisting with and producing trainings for outside advocates on eviction prevention, public benefits and Housing Court issues.
- Assisting in advocacy campaigns aimed at improving the lives of hotline callers and people in Housing Court without attorneys.
- Assisting in lobbying campaigns to increase funding for the organization, the hotline, and for programs that assist hotline callers, particularly those facing eviction and homelessness.
- A background in housing, an understanding of Housing Court and Housing Court procedures, and an understanding of NYC public benefits.
- Experience with
- Landlord-tenant court
- tenants’ rights
- public benefits
- NYCHA rules and procedures
- community outreach skills
- Database, email newsletter and website management skills a plus.
Salary and Benefits
Currently, salary is $49,352. Benefits include employer-paid health insurance, paid sick and vacation leave, paid holidays. Salary and benefits are negotiated through collective bargaining. Please send resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Hotline Position” in the subject.
Join the New Housing Connect for 2,500 Re-Rentals Thanks to My Law
The New York Times recently reported on 2,500 new affordable apartment units that will be available for re-rental thanks to a law I wrote with now-Public Advocate Williams and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Now that my law is in effect, you will be able to set up a profile on the new Housing Connect that will match you with hundreds of thousands of affordable housing re-rentals.
Since 2015, we’ve worked with ProPublica and hero whistleblower Steven Werner at HPD who first identified that owners of 15,000 buildings in New York City that received billions in property tax reductions in exchange for building as many as 50,000 affordable units, illegally failed to register them and might now be offering them at affordable rates.
Since I’ve been in the City Council we’ve built or preserved more than 1,000 units of affordable housing in the district, as well as overseeing more than 6,000 affordable units citywide. We are doing everything we can to build and protect affordable housing in our city. You might be surprised to learn that affordable housing is available for individuals making as little as $23,880 and families of five making as much as $202,620.
Recently, a new affordable housing opportunity was listed in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (shown right). To apply for this project, go to the new Housing Connect website. If you haven't made an account on the new site yet, sign up today.
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 6:30-7:30 AM 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.
Help Wanted for the American Red Cross’s Disaster Sheltering & Hurricane Season Readiness
The American Red Cross in Greater NY is urgently seeking up to 1,000 new volunteers to be part of our inaugural Hurricane Season Reserve Corps, a new, trained group of team members ready to support affected communities in the event of a major disaster in our region. This large number of “reserve” volunteers is needed due to the added constraints brought on by COVID-19 and the projected intensity of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30, 2020, with its peak in the Northeast in August and September.
Specifically, the Red Cross priority needs are for volunteers who will support sheltering efforts, including health services support, as needed across the Greater NY Region. The Greater New York Region includes New York City, Long Island, Rockland and Westchester Counties, and Greenwich, Conn. Positions are available across New Jersey and New York State as well. All necessary training (minimum of three hours) is provided virtually. In the event of disaster mobilization, individual shifts for this role are 12 hours. For more information, read the full press release at redcross.org
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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