From Ben Kallos, City Council Member <[email protected]>
Subject September News: In-Person Learning Delayed, Fighting Millions in Waste and Mismanagement, Fresh Food Box, Back to School Town Hall, & Go-Bag Giveaway
Date September 2, 2020 3:46 PM
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Dear Neighbor,

As we celebrate Labor Day I want to thank New Yorkers who are working from home and in-person during this pandemic and in particular our City’s workers who have kept our city running. I will always fight for you, and this month we fought off the Mayor's most recent threat of layoffs (#Contracts) and we continue to fight to restore $20 million cut from non-profits offering food, shelter, and service to youth and seniors (#Nonprofits) .

As Chair of the Contracts Committee, I've been reviewing contracts that can be cut or went wrong. I found hundreds of millions in contracts with our nation's largest corporations (#Contracts) for things like "whitepapers" that should be dropped before we cut education or services for youth and seniors. I also uncovered why tens of thousands of New Yorkers never got the air conditioners promised from the city (#AC) this summer.

With schools starting in September we've spent much of the summer supporting parents, principals, teachers, and most importantly students as we all fought to get their concerns addressed. Together, we delayed in-person learning until September 21 (#Reopening) and forced a commitment to hire at least one nurse per school (#Nurses) . With nearly 400,000 students choosing all remote learning, I joined the former chair of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus in proposing a citywide desegregated school district for online education (#Desegregate) that could be organized around students' individual learning styles and offer gifted and talented to every student who qualified or wished to participate. The New York Post even endorsed our proposal to desegregate (#Desegregate) .

With mounting concerns around homelessness and public safety, we are here to help. We joined the New York State Nurses Association in advocating for New York-Presbyterian to re-open in-patient psychiatric services to help the mentally ill off our streets (#Nurses) . We also continue to lead the Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services (#Homeless) (ETHOS), working with partners in the faith and nonprofit communities who are doing direct outreach, such as running soup kitchens to directly assist individuals. The most effective way to end our homelessness crisis will be to make more affordable housing available to homeless New Yorkers. If you know of someone who needs our help, please let us know.

With November approaching, we joined activists throughout the nation to save the Postal Service (#USPS) and continue to battle a broken Board of Elections (#BOE) .

Lastly, we would like to thank a resident for calling in a tip and the 23rd precinct for apprehending the suspect in a recent attempted daytime rape on a subway platform (#Attempted) .

Please join us in September for a town hall on schools re-opening (#TownHall) , emergency preparedness and Go-Bag giveaway (#Emergency) , the opening of our annual fresh food box (#FFB) , mask and hand sanitizer distribution (#Distribution) and, of course, First Friday (#FF) .


Benjamin Kallos

School Reopening Town Hall (#TownHall)
Tuesday, 9/8, 6PM

Emergency Preparedness & Go-Bag Giveaway (#Emergency)
Monday, 9/14, 6PM


First Friday (#FF)
Friday, 9/4, 8AM - 10AM

Fresh Food Box (#FFB)
Thursdays, 3:30PM - 6:30PM

Mask and Hand Sanitizer Distribution (#Distribution)
Varies by Location

Legal Clinics (#Clinics)
Schedule a Phone or Video Call

(Links not working, read this in your browser ([link removed]) )
1. Cut Billions in Contracts Before Firing City Workers (#Contracts)
2. Nonprofits Retroactively Cut Down by $20 Million (#Nonprofits)
3. Exposing Air Conditioners that Never Got Delivered (#AC)

4. Demanding Desegregated Remote Learning (#Desegregate)
5. School Kitchen Temperatures Exceed 135 Degrees and We Must Do Better (#Kitchen)
6. Schools Reopening Successfully Delayed, Thanks to Advocacy (#Reopening)
7. We Won the Fight to Guarantee A Full-Time Nurse For Every School (#Nurses)
8. The 20% Project: The Role of Interns in Local Government (#20%)

9. Saving the USPS (#USPS)
10. The Fight to Fix the Board of Elections Continues (#BOE)

11. Back to School Town Hall with the Department of Education (#TownHall)
12. Emergency Preparedness Presentation + Go-Bag Giveaway (Virtual) (#Emergency)
13. Fresh Food Box is Back (#FFB)
14. Free Mask and Sanitizer Distribution (#Distribution)
15. Virtual First Friday (#FF)

16. Repairs Begin on Esplanade Sinkhole (#repairs)
17. Fighting to Take Back Carl Schurz Parks from Mayor’s Blockade (#Blockade)

18. Connecting the UES and Astoria Thanks to New NYC Ferry Route (#Ferry)
19. Fighting for Pedestrian Space on the Queensboro Bridge (#bridge)

20. Governor Cuomo Announces Reopening of Gyms, Museums and More (#Reopening)
21. Attempted Rape Suspect Apprehended (#Attempted)
22. Criminal Justice Discussion with the East 72nd Neighborhood Association (#72)
23. Victory in the Fight to Protect and Uphold #Repeal50a (#Repeal)

24. Advocating for Funding for Excluded Workers (#Excluded)
25. Rallying with New York’s Nurses to Save Hospital Psych Unit (#Psych)

26. Last Chance to Fill Out Your 2020 Census (#Census)
27. Join the New Housing Connect for 2,500 Re-Rentals Thanks to My Law (#evergreen)
28. Free Virtual Coding Courses with Udemy (#udemy)
29. Get Screened for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month (#prostate)
30. Central Synagogue’s Grab-and-Go Food Program (#synagogue)
31. Virtual Brooklyn Book Festival (#BrooklynBooks)
32. The Slumber Yard’s Back to School Sleep Tips During COVID (#Slumber)
33. Free Ad Space on City Kiosks for Local Businesses (#Kiosks)
34. Volunteers Needed at GrowNYC’s 82nd Street Greenmarket (#GrowNYC)
35. Help Wanted for the American Red Cross’s Disaster Sheltering & Hurricane Season Readiness (#RedCross)
36. NYU Langone Health’s Alzheimer's Disease & Related Dementias Family Support Program (#NYU)
37. Search and Care Counseling Program: “Talkin’ it Out” (#searchNcare)
38. New York Legal Assistance Group COVID-19 Legal Resource Hotline (#NYU)

39. Free Legal Clinics (#Clinics)
40. Here to Help (#H2H)
41. Help the Homeless (#Homeless)


[link removed] over a month now, Mayor de Blasio has been consistent in voicing his plans to lay off at least 22,000 city workers (nearly 7% of the city’s full-time workforce) in order to make up a $9 billion City budget gap created as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic’s economic fallout and the absence of federal aid for our state and City. As I told The Daily News ([link removed]) , before the Mayor resorts to eliminating the income of some of the City’s workers who have risked their lives day after day during the pandemic to keep our City going, the city should turn to those whose salaries earning 400% of the citywide average to cut back on spending. There are consultants earning as much as of $400,000 annually through contracts with the City who will see no cuts, but
middle-class earners who are the backbone of this economy will face layoffs. At the very least, our City's workers deserve the opportunity to be trained and tried for the positions that are being outsourced through large companies.

“We should start with cutting the corporate consulting contracts,” I said to the Daily News. “And as we reduce the headcount from consultants, if there’s some reduction at agencies that would be helpful for efficiency, we should have our city employees fulfill the duties that the consultants were providing.”

This suggestion is a fair and reasonable proposal that could cut costs as needed while sparing the jobs of our hard-working municipal employees, who should be prioritized above gigantic firms. For more information, see full coverage by the New York Daily News ([link removed]) .

[link removed] you may have read in the Daily News ([link removed]) , Mayor de Blasio abruptly cut $20 million in funding from the city's nonprofits, who have been on the frontlines providing meals, personal protective equipment and many other services to New Yorkers. With this funding loss, nonprofits will have to come out of pocket for overhead costs — known in budget jargon as “indirect costs” — that the city had previously promised to reimburse. This is a devastating financial blow at any time, but especially now as the pandemic has increased the demand for their services.
"These are nonprofits that helped our most vulnerable during the pandemic. Now [Mayor de Blasio] is not only going to hurt them, but the New Yorkers that need the help more than ever," I told The News.

Forty percent of the state’s nonprofits already face the risk of closing over the next year and a half, and we cannot turn our backs on them. For more information, check out full coverage by the New York Daily News ([link removed]) .

[link removed] $10 million city contract with P.C. Richard & Son inked in June would have provided 30,000 air conditioners to low-income seniors during a time when they were at their most vulnerable, but it never happened. The company blames the deal's souring on misinformation and mismanagement, stating that the City's provision of incorrect addresses and incompatible installation assignments, coupled with outstanding payments, led to delays that ultimately caused the deal to fail. Of the 58,740 installed through Mayor de Blasio's "Get Cool NYC" program, only 382 were installed by P.C. Richard & Son. Meanwhile, the City's Emergency Management Office denies that there are any payments due.

The issue with this game of finger-pointing is that the City's seniors are the ones who end up the most implicated by these missteps. As I told the New York Daily News ([link removed]) , for a company that prides itself on being reliable in its slogan, New York City couldn’t rely on them in our time of need. Now, the City must shell out an additional $3.3 million to finish the job. For more information, see full coverage by the New York Daily News ([link removed]) .


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New York City public schools are more segregated today than they were during ([link removed]) Brown v. Board of Education ([link removed]) , largely because our city’s neighborhoods are the result of a long history of government-enforced racism and de jure segregation right here in New York City. As we transitioned to remote learning for 1.1 million students during the height of the pandemic, the Department of Education kept students segregated by geography and school district. As I recently told the New York Post ([link removed]) , with as more than a third of public school families opting for full remote learning in the fall, Council Member Robert Cornegy and I believe that the City has a historic
opportunity to desegregate classes and achieve educational equality online.

[link removed] a letter ([link removed]) to Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carranza, we proposed the creation of a new desegregated citywide school district to serve every student enrolled in all remote learning, explaining that:

“The virtual schools within this new district would be organized around learning style, enrichment, and even common interest. Initial online diagnostics or results from remote learning earlier this year would help identify how students learned, so we can best match them with teachers and virtual classrooms filled with diverse groups of students who learned the same way.”

As we await the end of the pandemic and a return to in-person learning, imagine the public education system we can create together with the ambitious goal of taking on systemic racism and segregation, one without lotteries and without geographic preference based on racist redlining.

For more information on our push to desegregate New York City public school, read our full letter to Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza at ([link removed]) , read original coverage in the New York Post ([link removed]) , or read their endorsement ([link removed]) .

“Too hot? Then get out of the kitchen” doesn’t work when you are a kitchen worker and people are counting on you to feed millions of hungry children, young adults and seniors each day. That is exactly the scenario that the City’s kitchen staff members have been faced with this summer as temperatures in their workplace surpassed 135 degrees. As The Chief Leader ([link removed]) recently reported, I visited the kitchen at Julia Richman Education Complex here in the district on a day when ovens were not even on and the temperature inside was still 15 degrees hotter than it was outside. I immediately reported these unacceptable conditions to the Department of Education (DOE), who installed an air-conditioning unit in the kitchen shortly thereafter. But that is not enough.

[link removed] it came time to rally, I proudly stood beside members of Local 372 and my colleagues in demanding that DOE and School Construction Authority provide all school kitchen staff members with proper protections from extreme temperatures and any otherwise unsafe working conditions. We cannot treat animals better than our essential workers. Though the summer season will soon end and take the sweltering heat with it, I am committed to protecting kitchen staffers, and all workers, year-round. For more information, read full coverage by The Chief Leader ([link removed]) .

[link removed] the City Department of Education’s Panel for Education Policy last month, I spoke in solidarity with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA), PressNYC, and countless students and families across the city on the importance of making sure that any reopening this fall is safe and prioritizes equity. At the very least, we need the Department of Education (DOE) to guarantee the provision of PPE, nurses in every school, funding for sufficient staffing, proper ventilation with working windows and filters on HVAC systems, and safe hygiene and student circulation protocols. Thanks to the persistence of the UFT and CSA, and my fight alongside them, the DOE has delayed the start of in-person learning to September 21, giving parents, teachers and school administrators more time to prepare and to get this right. Learn more at
([link removed]) .

[link removed] may have read in last month’s newsletter about my demands alongside parents at P.S. 290 that the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Education (DOE) provide full-time nurses for all of the City’s public schools. I have continued to call attention to this need ahead of schools reopening, sharing with the New York Post ([link removed]) my fear that a medical professional will not be present on campuses to perform proper diagnoses and other health services. Together we made strides, with the Community Education Committee of District 2 passing a resolution regarding the need for a school nurse to apply additional pressure to the DOE. I am proud to report that our efforts succeeded as Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza announced
([link removed]) in mid-August that the City would hire 400 new nurses to guarantee that every school building has a nurse by the first day of in-person learning on September 21. I intend to do everything in my power to hold them to their word and ensure that this promise comes to fruition in time for schools’ reopening.

I've always enjoyed mentoring interns as part of our program that provides academic credits, work-study, and educational opportunities. Since before I took office, I've taken inspiration from Google ([link removed]) and 3M ([link removed]) by challenging every intern I've ever had to a 20% project ([link removed]) , where they can pursue an independent project that will benefit our City. One former intern, Julian F., wrote about his and his colleagues’ combined experience of working for my office from home this summer, and I couldn’t be prouder of the result:

Summer interns at the office of Council Member Kallos’ process an extraordinary volume of cases—ranging from questions about office programs and events to unresolved 311 complaints, affordable housing issues, park openings, and election concerns-- to name a few. Constituents reach out via email, phone, or fax with a host of inquiries and issues that interns work to resolve on their behalf. As this unprecedented and unforeseen summer winds to a close, we, the interns, would like to highlight the internship program and illustrate the key role that interns play in the day-to-day function of government offices.

When a constituent reaches out and lodges a complaint or question, an intern is assigned to respond. Interns are briefed on the Council Member’s priorities and ongoing projects, and often use their knowledge of office operations and any resources provided to resolve cases. In the event that an issue falls outside of our direct jurisdiction, interns are also authorized and encouraged to communicate with dozens of public and private agencies to expedite a resolution. Though government is often fraught with red-tape and bureaucracy-induced headaches, we aim to be the fast-acting resolvers of constituent concerns.

Interns tackle dozens of cases throughout their tenure, but some stand out as particularly significant, challenging, or consequential. One intern, Harris C., described his experience working with a woman who contacted our office for assistance while suffering financial abuse. Harris put the constituent in touch with a number of free legal services and contacted city agencies on her behalf. Though these processes can often be arduous, tedious, and time-consuming for district residents, constituent service interns adapt to it quickly—learning the best routes to resolve the issues that arise in many domains.

“It just makes me think about the fact that government has an impact on every aspect of our lives,” Harris said. “[Government] can be approached for assistance of any kind, from basic information to urgent help.”

Julia W. has interned for the Council Member for three consecutive summers and is grateful for the opportunity to help constituents and engage with various aspects of the City Council. Of all the cases she’s worked on, one housing case in particular stands out. A constituent reached out, explaining that since his building didn't have a certificate of occupancy for his basement-dwelling, he was concerned that his apartment was illegal or a fire hazard. If deemed as such, he knew he would likely be asked to vacate the apartment, leaving him temporarily homeless. In order to resolve this concern, Julia reached out to various agencies, including the Department of Buildings and the Illegal Conversion Task Force of the FDNY.

“It was extraordinary to see that all of the organizations I contacted were so willing to effectively collaborate for the benefit of our constituent,” Julia said. “Cases like these also reinforce the phrase, ‘it takes a village.’”

Our constituent couldn't have resolved his issue alone, but neither could our office. Effective governing requires unity and cooperation amongst people and organizations, an ideal that Julia has found holds true for the Council Member’s operations.

While certain cases have higher stakes than others, interns are dedicated to solving all constituent issues that come our way. For instance, when a district resident reached out with a question about the legality of keeping hybrid Bengal cats as pets, an intern worked with our legislative director and the Department of Health to determine the answer: New York state is one of about a dozen states that bans any animal with relation to a wild animal including Bengal cats.

The Council Member’s office functions as a hub of information and advocacy. Beyond communicating directly with constituents, interns are also tasked with researching and organizing information about pressing district issues.

The program enables interns to sharpen their understanding of New York City government and deepen their sense of civic duty. Julian F., a college intern studying business administration and political science, noted that the internship allowed him to conceptualize his academic focuses in a more tangible, applicable context.

“Government always struck me as this really nebulous entity,” he said. “But I’ve definitely been able to better understand the logistics behind it, and the internship has helped me get a sense of how all these elected officials and agencies and institutions really interact.”

The Council Member and his staff are committed to hearing the voices of those in the District 5 community and interns play an especially critical role in that process by facilitating the efficient and effective operation of a municipality.

If you were inspired by this article and want to apply for an internship or fellowship you can learn more at ([link removed])


In response to concerns ([link removed]) about the removal of U.S. Postal Service (USPS) mailboxes and the potential for that to impede on a fair election in November, I joined Move On, the Working Families Party, Indivisible and more to defend the sanctity of one of our nation’s oldest institutions. We are nearing one of the most important elections in history and for the Trump administration to attempt to intervene is an assault on the voting rights of all Americans.

To save the Postal Service, we're all going to have to fight. Thank you to the dozens who joined me at 1st St. and participated in countless demonstrations all over, and thank you to the workers at the postal service who sounded the alarm, allowing us to fight back before it was too late. Who would have ever thought that an effort to undermine our democracy would come in the form of an attack on our Postal Service? This is wrong. Though the USPS has said it will no longer remove mailboxes until after the election, I plan to stay on top of this issue to ensure that our democracy is protected.

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In last month’s newsletter, I spoke about my lack of confidence in the Board of Election (BOE) and the need to reform our state laws so that everyone can vote easily by mail, even after the pandemic. This month, I continued beating the drum as I spoke to the New York Post ([link removed]) about how the patronage of Democratic and Republican party chairs has stifled the BOE to the point of dysfunctionality. We need a Board of Elections built on merit rather than partisanship to best serve our City.

In 2016, I passed a law ([link removed]) to require the Board of Elections to provide voters with absentee ballot tracking from their request, to when it gets mailed, and when it gets received. Despite testifying that the Board of Elections (BOE) could implement the system, they chose not to, leaving more than 100,000 voters disenfranchised. My legislation would have circumvented the issues the City is facing today with voting by mail, but now only time will tell whether the BOE is capable of getting the job done their way. For more information, see coverage by the New York Post ([link removed]) .


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Back to School Town Hall (Virtual)
Tuesday, September 8th at 6pm

On Tuesday, September 8th at 6pm, my office will be hosting a Reopening Schools Virtual Town Hall, geared toward parents, caregivers, students and educators. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney will join us as we hear from Department of Education Deputy Chancellor Adrienne Austin who will answer your questions on how to guarantee a safe reopening plan.

You must RSVP ([link removed]) to participate.

Video Conference: RSVP ([link removed]) for your URL, create a free account at
Teleconference: RSVP ([link removed]) to receive the number and access code
Facebook Live: Skip the RSVP and watch the stream at ([link removed])

Questions must be submitted with RSVP or by email to [email protected] (mailto:[email protected])

RSVP at ([link removed])

[link removed]

Emergency Preparedness Presentation + Go Bag Giveaway (Virtual)
Monday, September 14th from 6 – 7pm

With hurricane season well underway, it is imperative that New York City residents are able to equip themselves with proper emergency preparedness tools to use at their disposal should they need them. That's why my office partnered with the City's Department of Emergency Management and a host of local elected officials to offer a virtual safety presentation and distribute Go-Bags.

Residents must RSVP ([link removed]) and attend the entire virtual presentation on September 14th from 6pm – 7pm to be eligible to receive a Go-bag at the distributions on September 15th ([link removed]) and 21st ([link removed]) . Please submit your prefered date for pick up in the question field with your registration.

Go-bags will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Limit capacity, one bag per household.

Video Conference: RSVP ([link removed]) for your URL, create a free account at
Teleconference: RSVP ([link removed]) to receive the number and access code
Facebook Live: Skip the RSVP and watch the stream at ([link removed])

Questions must be submitted with RSVP or by email to [email protected] (mailto:[email protected])

RSVP at ([link removed])

[link removed]

Through the partnership with my office, GrowNYC’s Fresh Food Box program has been providing affordable, healthy food since 2016. We are happy to announce that Fresh Food Box will be returning to District 5 for the 2020 season starting September 3rd!

September 3rd will be the first sign-up day and September 10th will be the first food distribution day. This year, there's a new customer registration form ([link removed]) that only takes 2-5 minutes to fill out, but must be completed before purchasing a box on September 3rd for pick-up on September 10th. 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 on September 3rd to pay for a box.

Due to COVID-19, GrowNYC has implemented the following new safety protocols:
1. 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.
2. Wearing a face mask or other face covering across your nose and mouth is required in order to receive service.
3. Please maintain 6-ft distance from GrowNYC staff, volunteers, fellow Food Box customers, and passerby.

For more information, or if you have any questions, visit ([link removed])

[link removed] continue our partnership with the community to distribute disposable masks and hand sanitizer. Reach out to our partners to get yours now:
* Stanley Isaacs (RSVP ([link removed]) ) – Tuesday, September 15th, 11:15am–12:15pm, 415 East 93rd Street in the Courtyard
* Carnegie Hill Neighbors (RSVP ([link removed]) ) – Wednesday, September 16th, 1pm–2pm, 1326 Madison Avenue
* East 86th Street Neighborhood Association (RSVP ([link removed]) ) – Monday, September 14th, 11am–12pm, 86th St. and 2nd Ave, NE corner
* 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.

[link removed]

First Friday Online
Friday, September 4th, 8am-10am

First Friday remains one of my favorite parts of my job as your Council Member. Though my office remains closed for the safety of my staff, constituents and myself, I still want to listen to and address your concerns as we work together for a better city.

This coming First Friday, September 4th, 8am – 10am, we will hold our monthly morning meeting via online video and teleconference using Zoom for the second time.

Thank you to all the residents who participated in last month’s virtual First Friday.

You must RSVP ([link removed]) by Thursday, September 3rd to participate.

Video Conference: RSVP for your URL, create a free account at, RSVP ([link removed])
Teleconference: RSVP to receive the number and access code, RSVP ([link removed])
Facebook Live: Skip the RSVP and watch the stream at ([link removed])

Questions must be submitted with RSVP or by email to [email protected] (mailto:[email protected])

RSVP now at ([link removed])


After a section of the East River Esplanade collapsed and resulted in a sinkhole near East 76th Street last month, I am proud to report that the City Parks Department has already begun repairing the damage. I look forward to the restoration of this vital park space in the near future.

[link removed]
As you may have read in the New York Post ([link removed]) , I've been fighting to reopen Carl Schurz Park over the last months, which has seen barricades around Gracie's Mansion protests began in June.

“Families who didn’t abandon our city, families who stayed, feel frustrated they don’t have anywhere they can go because Gracie has barricaded off an acre of our limited parkland. Families stop me in the streets, people in my building complain to me, we get phone calls, we get emails. People just don’t understand why the mayor is doing this,” I told the Post.

[link removed] these times where access to open outdoor space is scarce due to the pandemic, New Yorkers want and need the option to safely spend time outdoors. The Mayor should remove the barricades so the park is easily accessible to Manhattan’s residents. Although there are still vigils and gatherings several times a week near the park in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, these meetings have been peaceful and there is no need for additional barricades to keep Gracie Mansion safe from peaceful activists.For more information, see full coverage by the New York Post ([link removed]) .


[link removed] proudly joined the New York City Economic Development Corporation in announcing ([link removed]) that, as of August 22, the final stop on the NYC Ferry's Astoria Route will be the 90th Street Pier on the Upper East Side, an extension that we hope will unify communities in Manhattan and Queens and make commuting easier for residents.

I took my first ride on the new ferry route with Mayor de Blasio, Congresswoman Maloney and am ever thankful for my friendship with Council Member Costa Constantinides who represents Astoria. For more information, see coverage by AM New York ([link removed]) .

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Thousands of New Yorkers bike, walk, and run over the Queensboro Bridge each day. The bridge has nine lanes for car traffic, yet only a narrow path along the northern edge of the bridge is open to cyclists and pedestrians, causing conflicts, congestion, and in the age of COVID, dangerous crowding. As the Manhattan council members whose districts border the bridge, and whose constituents depend on this critical inter-borough connection, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and I called on the city to open the South Outer Roadway to pedestrians, even offering to cover the cost of the project.

In an op-ed for AM New York ([link removed]) , we wrote:

"We know the South Outer Roadway could be opened to foot traffic because it already was, during the 1980s and 1990s, before it was returned to cars. We know its reopening will require some immediate safety improvements, and we’re here to advocate for them. In fact, we’ve pledged to use some of our discretionary capital funding to help install fencing along a new South Outer Sidewalk. All we need is for the City to respond to our determination with their own."

And the City did. The day after our op-ed was published, Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said she is open to the idea ([link removed]) of making the South Outer Roadway a pedestrian lane. We are currently in talks on how to move forward with this plan. For more information, read the original op-ed published by AM New York ([link removed]) , or see coverage by Streetsblog ([link removed]) , New York County Politics ([link removed]) and the Long Island City Post ([link removed]) .


[link removed] Cuomo announced in August that select indoor industries can reopen, with each allowed to operate at varying capacities. In concordance with state guidelines and health procedures, the most recent businesses to reopen on August 24th include:
* Cultural institutions, aquariums, and museums ([link removed]) (25% occupancy limit)
* Gyms and fitness centers ([link removed]) (33% occupancy limit)
* Bowling alleys ([link removed]) (50% occupancy limit)

A set of mandatory and best practices for each business can be found at the links above. As the City’s reopening slowly and carefully continues, the key to its success will be testing for Covid-19. At this point, all New Yorkers should be getting tested regardless of whether they have symptoms. I encourage everyone to please go get your free test ([link removed]) .

[link removed]

[link removed] you to the East 72nd Neighborhood Association for organizing a recent forum where I joined Assembly Members Rebecca Seawright and Dan Quart, Senator Liz Krueger and Council Member Keith Powers to talk about the top concerns in our communities, including violent crime, homelessness, and bike safety.

[link removed] soon as the state repealed 50A to make the NYPD's disciplinary records public, litigation was brought to block the release of those records. Even so, ProPublica released ([link removed]) some of the data which revealed multiple unsubstantiated complaints across multiple instances for some officers, showing what looks to me like patterns of improper behavior to say the least. We are fighting to keep this information public and as co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, I was proud to lead the Caucus in filing an amicus brief ([link removed]) . Thank you to Kirkland Ellis, our pro-bono attorney, for their assistance in this matter. We are committed to making sure that the state law is upheld and these records are displayed to the public so we can finally begin to hold officers who
repeatedly receive complaints about the same behavior accountable. Derek Chauvin, the man who killed George Floyd had seven of these complaints ([link removed]) , only one of which resulted in discipline. Ensuring that this information is accessible will not only create greater transparency within the police force, but it could save lives.


[link removed] joined Make the Road NY, the Urban Justice Center, and the Street Vendor Project in hosting an episode of Manhattan Neighborhood Network’s “Represent NYC” to highlight how many U.S. workers are excluded from receiving federal or state financial aid during this pandemic and how we can tax billionaires to provide support for our most vulnerable. Watch the full episode online at ([link removed])

[link removed] in the pouring rain, dozens of nurses from the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) and elected officials including myself stood in front of the New York-Presbyterian Allen Psychiatric Hospital in northern Manhattan, demanding the facility be re-opened. Allen is the only in-patient psychiatric serving Manhattan north of 70^th Street.

The implications of closing the facility have already become obvious on our streets as we see many folks struggling with mental health issues and not getting the care they need. Manhattan need this facility to remain in service as psychiatric cases have not declined this year. In fact, many communities are even more in need than ever before. Check out coverage of the rally from the Manhattan Times ([link removed]) .


[link removed] with an accurate census count can we ensure the federal government will give us our fair share of funding for things like school seats, building and maintaining infrastructure, transit, and emergency services. All area census offices will complete their work by September 30, 2020. If you have not already filled out your census, please do so as soon as possible by visiting ([link removed])

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The New York Times ([link removed]) 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 ([link removed]) that will match you with hundreds of thousands of affordable housing re-rentals.

Since 2015, we’ve worked with ProPublica ([link removed]) 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. [link removed] 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 ([link removed]) . If you haven't made an account on the new site yet, sign up today ([link removed]) .

[link removed] learning to code, kids adopt different skills such as mathematical thinking, writing and storytelling, organizing and synthesizing data, and many others. At Udemy, we provide different coding courses for kids ([link removed]) , starting from coding basics and game-based introductions to algorithms to learning different languages like Java or HTML in a fun game-like way. The courses are free of charge and can be accessed upon free registration. There are also paid coding courses ([link removed]) that come with a 30-day money-back policy. For more information, visit ([link removed])

[link removed] is prostate cancer awareness month (PCAM). Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, after skin cancers, and the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, only behind lung cancer. There are currently 3.1 million American men suffering from prostate cancer and of those, communities of color are disproportionately affected.

While not a risk factor, it is important to note that anyone with a prostate can be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Transgender women and non-binary or gender-nonconforming folks are often left out of the conversation on prostate cancer because of the usage of male (he/him/his) pronouns. Gay men are not at a higher risk for prostate cancer but can experience more taxing emotional side effects based on their relationships.

On the bright side, prostate cancer is easily treatable if detected early. When caught early, the 10-year relative survival rate is 98%. Therefore, screening for prostate cancer is crucial, which is why raising awareness is so important. For more information and to schedule a screening today, visit ([link removed])

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 protected] (mailto:[email protected]) .

[link removed] Book Festival ([link removed]) , New York City’s largest free literary festival, will be fully virtual for its 15th anniversary. For the first time, everyone will be able to attend the entire festival online, from the comfort of their home, neighborhood center, or even outside on their mobile devices. This fall, it is welcoming an array of national and international literary stars and emerging authors to celebrate books and literature in the Virtual Festival. Starting the festivities early, the signature Virtual Bookend Events kick-off will take place from Mon, Sept 28 - Mon, Oct 5, presented with much-loved cultural and literary curators from across the city. For more information, visit ([link removed])

[link removed] year it’s difficult for kids to get back into the routine of bedtime on school nights. With this year’s added challenges, it’s no wonder that children and their parents are finding it harder than ever to get back to a regular bedtime this school year. To help support healthy sleep for students and parents during the pandemic, the Slumber Yard created Back to School Sleep Tips During COVID ([link removed]) .

This resource provides easy steps parents can take to get their child back into a routine to wake up early for school, including tips like making time and space to talk through anxiety that keeps kids up at night, as well as how to create a healthy sleep environment in their bedrooms. For more information, visit ([link removed])

[link removed] is excited to announce a new partnership with media and tech company Intersection to provide additional, free advertising on LinkNYC kiosks to local businesses. They are looking to help pair small businesses with completely free advertising space funded by corporate sponsors across local communities.

Out-of-home (OOH) ads can make a big difference:
* Brick-and-mortar brands who incorporated OOH, saw 80% - 120% boost in foot traffic
* 1 in 5 people immediately visited a local business after seeing a directional OOH ad
* 74% of those customers made a purchase at that local establishment

There is absolutely no cost as the program is being sponsored by corporate partners who are looking to give back to small businesses and invest in local communities. Simply take 90 seconds to fill out the form at ([link removed])

GrowNYC is seeking volunteers from the neighborhood to assist the Greenmarket as a Food Access Information Docent every Saturday at 8:30am-12:30pm or 12pm-3pm.

Volunteers will help direct the public (from a safe distance) to practice awareness and social distancing. We will provide volunteers with single-use gloves, hand sanitizer, and wipes, and masks but we highly encourage volunteers to wear their own masks. Volunteers must be 18 years and older.

General responsibilities are:
* Chalk up or tape spaces in the market as line indicators for customers
* Direct participants to line up / stay at least 6 feet apart from each other
* Managing lines
* Assist in doing customer counts
* Help close down the market with the market manager

If interested, email [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) for more information.

[link removed] 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 ([link removed])

[link removed] 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.

Services include:
* 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 ([link removed])

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.

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.


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 have been temporarily moved online due to Covid-19. Appointments take place 2pm – 6pm:
* General Civil Law, By Appointment Only
* Life Planning Clinic, 3rd Wednesday
* Family Law and Domestic Violence, 1st Tuesday
* Housing Clinics, Mondays and Wednesdays

Please call my office at 212-860-1950 or email [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) with the subject ‘Requesting Legal Clinic’ to make appointments to meet by phone.

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 [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) with any unresolved 311 complaints.

In March, I joined Communities United for Police Reform ([link removed]) 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 ([link removed])

Back in 2016, I launched the Eastside Task Force for Homeless Outreach and Services ([link removed]) (ETHOS) with Borough President Brewer, Senator Krueger, Council Member Garodnick, Department of Social Services ([link removed]) (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 ([link removed]) (Android ([link removed]) /iPhone
([link removed]) ) 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 ([link removed])

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244 E 93rd St
New York, NY 10128
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