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Dear Neighbor,

I hope you were able to celebrate Thanksgiving with loved ones in person or virtually. As we celebrate the holidays, my thoughts go to the homeless and hungry, which is why we held a hearing demanding the Mayor restore retroactive cuts to nonprofits serving our city's neediest and why I wrote an op-ed proposing that we use ten of thousands of vacant apartments to house our homeless now.

It is undeniable that we are amidst a second wave. With schools set to reopen, we've been focused on being prepared for what may come and pushing the de Blasio administration, who are dangerously far from having a 90-day stockpile of N95 masks. We can never let our front-line workers work without adequate protection again. Amidst the whiplash of re-openings and closures, we successfully secured 200 Learning Bridges seats on Roosevelt Island, thanks to our work alongside parents on the Island.

We celebrated the reopening of Carl Schurz Playground with a ribbon-cutting on more than $3 million in renovations, which I helped fund. We also learned the Blood Center is proposing a new building that will cast a shadow on St. Catherine's Park. There is a vital deadline for you to make your voice heard in support, opposition or with improvements to their plan.

This month, we're bringing our annual Holiday Party online with an evening of performances. As always, we will have our monthly virtual First Friday meeting together with a Go-Bag Giveaway this Friday, December 4.


Benjamin Kallos


Emergency Preparedness Go-Bag Giveaway
Presentation on Friday, 12/4, 9:45am – 10am
Pick Up on Thursday, 12/10, 3pm – 5pm

Environmental Review for Blood Center Proposal
Tuesday, 12/15, 2pm

Virtual Holiday Party
Tuesday, 12/15, 6:30pm


First Friday
Friday, 12/4, 8pm

Face Mask and Hand Sanitizer Distribution
Dates and times vary by location

Legal Clinics
Schedule a phone or video call



(Links not working? Read this in your browser)

  1. eHail for Yellow and Green Cabs Proposed
  2. Vacant Apartments Can House Our Homeless Now
  3. Blood Center Mid-Block 330-ft Tower Environmental Impact Hearing
  1. City Short on N95 Mask Stockpile
  2. COVID-19 Update: Curfew Instated, Schools Closed then Reopened
  1. $3.3 Million Carl Schurz Park Playground Renovation Complete
  2. Cutting the Ribbon on Roosevelt Island’s Historic, Newly Renovated Blackwell House
  3. Esplanade Sinkhole Repaired
  4. Construction Update on East Midtown Greenway 
  1. Learning Bridges Won for Roosevelt Island
  2. Wifi School Bus for Youth in Homeless Shelters
  1. Affordable Home Ownership Opportunity Approved by Council Coming Soon
  2. Join the New Housing Connect for 2,500 Re-Rentals Thanks to My Law
  1. Fighting Cuts to Nonprofits Ahead of Thanksgiving
  2. Supporting Women and People of Color in Doing Business with the City
  3. Hearing on Outsourcing City Jobs
  4. City Hiring Emergency Snow Laborers
  1. Ballot Access During a Pandemic
  2. Fighting Independent Expenditures
  1. Virtual First Friday
  2. Emergency Preparedness Presentation + Go-Bag Giveaway
  3. Virtual Holiday Party
  4. Environmental Review for Blood Center Proposal
  5. Free Mask Distributions
  6. Flu Shot Information
  1. Turkey Giveaway
  2. Showing Support for More Bike Lanes as Captain America Kallos
  3. Offering Hearings Support to Our Veterans at OATH’s Third Citywide Symposium
  1. Free Legal Clinics
  2. Here to Help
  3. Help the Homeless
  1. Apply for Heating and Cooling Assistance (HEAP)
  2. Manhattan Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Resource Network
  3. Child Mind Institute’s Virtual SEL Student Workshops for NYC DOE Educators
  4. NYC Department of Education Launches Parent University
  5. Harmony Program’s Free “Harmony at Home” Beginner Music Lessons
  6. Free Virtual Arts Classes for NYC Youth with Virtual Culture
  7. Read to Lead Makes Learning Fun for Middle Schoolers
  8. Central Synagogue’s Grab-and-Go Food Program
  9. Tips for Rideshare Safety
  10. Upcoming Webinars on Health Care with Kasirer
  11. Search and Care Counseling Program: “Talkin’ it Out”
  12. NYU Langone Health’s Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias Family Support Program
  13. Housing Court Answers Hiring a Full-time Hotline Specialist
  14. New York Legal Assistance Group COVID-19 Legal Resource Hotline
eHail for Yellow and Green Cabs Proposed
As the New York Daily News recently covered, following a $200 million victory in California for Uber and Lyft that re-classified drivers from employees with a minimum wage and health care back to independent contractors with neither, I re-introduced legislation for a “Universal eHail App” to allow any yellow or green cab driver to accept e-hails through a municipal app and open API. Under this legislation, proposed alongside Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez, riders would be able to electronically hail 16,591 yellow and green cabs together with 120,000 for-hire vehicles from a single municipal app or using third-party apps. The legislation was originally proposed in 2014 before a string of more than 8 taxi driver suicides seeks to empower them over app companies and level the playing field.
The pandemic has drastically reduced the number of trips per day from 750,000 for e-hails and 231,000 for yellow and greens to 144,000 and 9,000 at their lower point but as of June, only e-hails have rebounded to more than 250,000. As I told the Daily News:
"People should be able to raise their hand digitally and get a response from anyone... And every driver could compete regardless of what company they drive for. It gives drives a way to cut out the middleman of Uber and Lyft and go directly to the consumer."
In the years since introduction two e-hail apps have emerged for yellow and green cabs called Arro and Curb that allow you to electronically hail only a portion of the fleet, while this legislation would put the entire fleet of 16,591 vehicles at a rider's fingertips.
For more information, read the full press release at or see coverage by the New York Daily News.
Vacant Apartments Can House Our Homeless Now

As you may have read in AMNY, New York is not dead, but tens of thousands of apartments here are empty. This presents an unprecedented opportunity to house every New Yorker experiencing homelessness. As a city, we have a moral mandate to permanently house our homeless now. We can do so by creating tens of thousands of affordable housing units in existing empty apartments, including in our tallest buildings and wealthiest neighborhoods. No matter what neighborhood we live in, we can all welcome unhoused New Yorkers onto our block and into our buildings.
This morning, over 18,000 children woke up in a city shelter. Just over 10,000 families account for a 30,000 person majority of those living in shelters. With over 15,000 vacant Manhattan rentals and 4,100 vacant condominiums dating back before the pandemic, we now have more vacant apartments than homeless families. The city should buy these vacant condominiums and secure long-term leases on vacant rental apartments to provide transitional and permanent housing for the homeless. Opening up space in family shelters would then allow single adults experiencing homelessness to utilize buildings currently used as family shelters, enabling social distancing and providing greater privacy than the dormitory-style shelters, where the majority of single adults currently reside, sleeping in rooms with many people close together.
Prior to the pandemic, New York City paid $3.2 billion a year on costly shelter beds and commercial hotels. We pay far more to shelter families than it would cost to supplement their rent and provide them with a permanent home. According to the Mayor’s Management Report, it costs over $6,000 per month to provide shelter for a family with children, and approximately $3,900 per month to shelter a single adult, and those costs will rise this year to accommodate Covid-19 public safety measures. Meanwhile, the average length of stay in shelter has only gotten longer. According to last fiscal year’s reporting, families with children average 443 days at a shelter and single adults average 431 days—despite the thousands of vacant apartments waiting for renters.
New York City needs to be bold and start using these empty apartments to house our homeless. For my full proposal, read the op-ed at AMNY.

Blood Center Mid-Block 330-ft Tower Environmental Impact Hearing

In November, the New York Blood Center’s proposal for a 300-foot tall tower was presented to Community Board 8. The presentation, which included a shadow study of the impact of the new Blood Center project on St. Catherine's Park, is pictured above. Having seen the shadow study, I expressed my concerns at the beginning of the community board meeting and stayed to hear support, opposition, or solutions since I will have a vote at the end of the process. At the event, there were over 100 people in opposition, with only 20 or so in support. You can see the presentation at Community Board 8 for yourself.

An Environmental Assessment Study (EAS) has determined that this project will have an impact on the environment, which requires an Environmental Impact Study and a scoping session. At the session, you will be able to ask questions and propose items for the study to answer.

Environmental Scoping Session on the New York Blood Center
Tuesday, December 15, 2pm
RSVP Here Written comments will be accepted through Thursday, December 31. Comments can be submitted by email to [email protected]. I want to hear from you too, so please also submit your statements in support, opposition, solutions, or written testimonies to [email protected].

City Short on N95 Mask Stockpile

The CityGothamist and the New York Daily News all covered my recent disagreement with Mayor de Blasio overstating how prepared we are for the pandemic. As I told the Daily News:

"It’s dishonest for the mayor to put out the numbers claiming victory when people need to know we don’t have enough N95 masks."

You can see the numbers for yourself:

Last month, we asked whether the 90-day PPE stockpile goals from the Mayor were even enough and we're still looking for answers.

We are already facing a second wave and the last thing we can afford is another PPE shortage that forces the City to outsource supplies and forces essential workers to treat patients wearing garbage bags. For more information on the City's PPE supply, see coverage by The City, New York Daily News, and Gothamist.

COVID-19 Update: Curfew Instated, Schools Closed then Reopened
In response to the increase in the number of new Covid-19 cases in New York City, new restrictions have been put in place by Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio.

Under a statewide mandate by Governor Cuomo, as of November 13th, all liquor-licensed restaurants and bars, as well as gyms, are required to close at 10pm until further notice. Private indoor gatherings are also not permitted to exceed 10 people.

Under a citywide mandate by Mayor de Blasio, all public school buildings were ordered to close on November 19th, though they are now set to reopen for in-person instruction on December 7th, when students in 3-K and Pre-K programs, as well as those in grade K through grade 5 who have opted for in-person learning, will return for the remainder of the semester. Schools serving District 75 will reopen on December 10th. There is still no information on whether middle and high school students are expected to learn remotely for the remainder of the year.

For breaking coverage and updates on the latest Covid-19 restrictions, follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

$3.3 Million Carl Schurz Park Playground Renovation Complete

As Patch recently reported, $3.3 million in renovations to the Carl Schurz Park playground funded with $2.5 million from my office and $750,000 from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer are now complete. While it was cute to see my daughter playing on the same equipment as I did 30 years ago, my 2-year-old daughter and every other child deserved a new playground and now they have it. Thank you to the Parks Department for working with us to get this done within a year and to East River Esplanade Co-Chair Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney for joining me to officially open the new playground. Upgrades to the playground include a reconstructed spray shower, swings, new play equipment for children ages 2 to 12, accessible ramps that connect to Catbird Playground, game tables, benches, plantings and pavers. We’ve been working on this project since long before I had a child and I am happy to finally welcome it to the neighborhood. For more information, read the release at or read coverage in Patch.

Cutting the Ribbon on Roosevelt Island’s Historic, Newly Renovated Blackwell House

As Patch recently reported, last month I cut the ribbon on the newly renovated Blackwell House alongside Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) President and CEO Shelton Haynes, Roosevelt Island Historical Society President Judith Berdy and Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright. The Blackwell House is incredibly rich with history as the sole surviving building on Roosevelt Island that dates back to when the island was still privately owned by the Blackwell family. During that time, from the late 17th century until 1828, the island was mostly farmland.
The renovation of Blackwell House is a project that I have been waiting to get finished for over six years, dating to before I took office when former Council Member Jessica Lappin allocated funds back in 2007. Once I became Council Member, I had to fight for the funding every year as the former Speaker tried to take it back and reallocate it since it could not be spent just yet. The awarding of the money had been held up for roughly eight years due to executive changes at RIOC and the City’s Offices of Management and Budget and Department of Cultural Affairs. We also spent years pushing agencies to spend the money and get the renovations underway. Ultimately, I was able to join RIOC and the DCA in contributing $364,000 to the $2.9 million put forth for renovations, which include the installation of new partitions, stairs, ceilings, doors, trimming, a new heating and ventilation system, as well as electrical, plumbing and fixtures. It is also now equipped with an ADA-compliant access ramp that provides access next to the newly upgraded front porch.
There is no reason this type of project should take 13 years to finish but we are happy to have it completed and available for residents to enjoy. As Contracts Chair, I’ve been working to get these projects done faster. Roosevelt Island really is a diamond in the crown of our City so having this piece of history finished and ready to be experienced by the public will do a lot for the Island once in-person contact is encouraged again. Watch my statement at the ribbon cutting at, read the press release at or see coverage by Patch.
Esplanade Sinkhole Repaired

As Co-Chair of the East River Esplanade Taskforce with Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, we secured more than $278 million for repairs to the Esplanade, including a sinkhole that emerged after a collapse over the summer. Thank you to the Parks Department for fast-tracking these repairs within a record-breaking 4 months.
Construction Update on East Midtown Greenway
The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway is intended to transform the underutilized waterfront into public open space for both recreational and commuting use. The Greenway will connect over 1,000 acres of open space and provide access to the waterfront for Manhattan communities that have historically been cut off from it.
Despite progress in the development of new waterfront public open space in New York City, a major gap exists in Midtown East, which is cut off from the water by the FDR Drive. The East Midtown Waterfront Project addresses the gap between 38th and 61st Streets along the East River and includes the construction of Andrew Haswell Green Park Phase 2B. A new 40-foot-wide esplanade will run over the water from 53rd to 60th Streets, parallel to the FDR Drive, allowing pedestrians to experience water on both sides. An ADA-accessible bridge will also be built from the Greenway over the FDR Drive to East 54th Street. Phase 2B is a 1.1-acre site between 60th and 62nd Streets and includes a new lawn, landscaping, and site amenities.

Work to Date
  • Construction was paused between April and August due to the Covid-19 pandemic and restarted in September 2020.
  • Marine demolition has resumed on the platform by 59th and 60th Streets.
  • Marine work is underway in preparation for caisson installation.
  • Site work is underway in Clara Coffey Park.
  • Structural repairs are underway at the 60th Street ramp.
Construction Hours
  • DOT permits allow for work between 7:00am to 6:00pm, Monday to Friday.
Next Steps
  • Marine work will continue through the end of 2020 with the installation of caissons moving from north to south.
  • Fabrication of the pedestrian bridge will begin off-site. 
For more information, email [email protected] or visit

Learning Bridges Won for Roosevelt Island

I am proud to share that after months of advocacy, Roosevelt Island finally has its own Learning Bridges site at HCK Recreation Inc. where up to 200 seats will be provided. I encourage any parent on Roosevelt Island who is in need of childcare to apply online today and email [email protected] when you do.
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. Now, months later, with schools closed once again, the call for more remote learning seats is being renewed before it is even answered.
We started working with providers like Island Kids on their applications back in August. As Patch and Tapinto reported, when a provider was rejected we held a virtual rally where Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, and acting RIOC President Shelton Haynes joined more than 40 families, with some holding signs drawn by the children, to bolster their demands. The week following our rally, we learned that the City decided to approve a different provider for the Island, HCK Recreation Inc.
While we can help any provider apply for a contract, we are not able to approve or weigh in on the City’s approval of one site over another. Nonetheless, we remain committed to ensuring that there are enough seats and we are not done fighting yet. Whether it’s for Roosevelt Island or the rest of the district, we will work with providers through the process and if they don’t have enough seats, we will fight for them.
We still need your help to open more 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? 
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 need help applying or if you are interested in helping to open new remote learning sites in the district, email [email protected].
Wifi School Bus for Youth in Homeless Shelters

Affordable Home Ownership Opportunity Approved by Council Coming Soon
I am proud to share that there will be an opportunity to own an affordable coop with housing I pushed through the City Council. Now, 10 newly constructed cooperative apartment units at 1402 York Avenue will be offered to eligible buyers that qualify as low-income households at 80% AMI  $63,860 for an individual or $72,800 for a couple, with estimated sales prices ranging from $23,972 to $64,437. As Patch recently reported, I had the pleasure of working personally with developers to reduce costs for coop owners in comparison to what was initially proposed.
The $9 million project came together as a result of my partnership with New York City’s Housing Preservation Department’s (HPD) Inclusionary Housing program. Amenities in the building for residents’ use include a bicycle storage room, fitness center and common roof terrace. The studio apartments include washer and dryer hookups and expansive street-facing windows to maximize natural light. Applications for affordable housing will be available in the coming weeks at Stay tuned to our newsletter; there will an information session where you can apply.
For more information on the announcement of these units, read the release at
Join the New Housing Connect for 2,500 Re-Rentals Thanks to My Law

In June, the New York Times 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.

To view available listings, visit the new Housing Connect website. If you haven't made an account on the new site yet, sign up today.

Fighting Cuts to Nonprofits Ahead of Thanksgiving
On the day before Thanksgiving, nonprofits on the frontlines of this pandemic who are struggling to feed the hungry shared the devastating impact of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s retroactive and prospective cuts of tens of millions of dollars. Recently, the hearing on cuts to nonprofits was held in the Committee on Contracts, chaired by me and joined by dozens of providers and residents who are struggling through the holiday season.

After promising to fully fund indirect costs with $54 million in November of 2019, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in July of 2020 that he would be retroactively cutting the city’s reimbursement for these costs and moving forward. In April, Mayor de Blasio’s Executive Plan cut indirect funding by nearly 40% to $34 million under the guise of a “right-sizing,” assuring providers that reimbursements from that fiscal year would be completed. Human service providers are now in trouble, having already spent funds expecting this reimbursement, which was reduced to 10% of contract value or 60% of actual costs, and they must continue through this pandemic without the city paying for indirect costs as promised.

In August, I along with 20 council members demanded the restoration of these funds by letter. In September, I joined Human Services Council, Borough President Gale Brewer, council members and providers to lead a rally demanding a restoration of these funds.

Mayor de Blasio said he would support our nonprofits working on the frontlines to help those in need and it is time to pay up. If Scrooge could come around, so can he, and I am not above showing up at Gracie Mansion dressed as a Jacob Marley to convince him to do the right thing. For more information on this issue, read the release at
Supporting Women and People of Color in Doing Business with the City
It was a pleasure to be a panelist at the Commercial Observer’s Public Projects Forum as we discussed the best tips and practices for MWBEs to secure City contracts and navigate public-private partnerships. You can watch the entire event online at
Hearing on Outsourcing City Jobs
As Contracts Chair, I have exposed government corruption again and again. We've seen many instances of consultants and vendors donating to elected officials who then secure sweetheart deals from the City. A lot of this could be avoided if we would just invest in our city employees instead of threatening to lay them off and trying to outsource their jobs. That's why I'm holding an oversight hearing on the City's outsourcing practices to see if we can save taxpayer dollars by doing work with our city employees rather than paying for overhead at big corporations whose employees often don't even live here. I invite you to share any outsourcing contracts you think might be questionable and even testify:

Committee on Contracts Hearing
Wednesday, December 16, 10am
Virtual Room 2

RSVP by Monday, December 14, and submit your testimony to [email protected]

Ballot Access During a Pandemic

As the Daily News recently reported, the coronavirus outbreak has given renewed importance to the need to end the petition-gathering part of qualifying for local elections. Under a bill I reintroduced in November, the city would end the requirement for candidates for City Council and other offices to gather signatures of support in order to run and, instead, allow candidates to obtain entry onto the ballot by raising enough cash to qualify for matching funds from the city’s Campaign Finance Board. Explaining why it is potentially harmful to uphold this practice of petitioning during a pandemic, I told the Daily News:
The idea that we’re going to have millions of people touching the same pens, signing the same petition boards — it’s looking for trouble, even if we do it safely.
In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Governor Cuomo suspended the petition-gathering process and reduced the required number of signatures to get on the ballot in June primaries for Congress, the state legislature and judgeships. I believe the same logic should apply to upcoming races in the city, especially since a contribution of $10 or more from someone in the neighborhood is a greater sign of support than a petition signature.
New York is one of only 13 states where the only means to get on the ballot is by meeting a threshold of signatures because of archaic ballot access laws dating back to the 1800s. This alternative is a more meaningful measure of a candidate’s support in his or her district, eliminates frivolous lawsuits and ballot challenges, and opens up the process. For more information, read the full release at or see coverage by the New York Daily News.
Fighting Independent Expenditures

I've never been a fan of the Citizens United v. FEC decision because corporations are not people, and I don't think independent expenditures are good for democracy. As the city heads into the 2021 municipal elections, candidates seeking to get around spending limits by coordinating with independent expenditures would see their attempts thwarted under legislation I recently proposed to penalize those candidates by reducing their spending limits and directly fining independent spenders who try to circumvent the rules.
In 2013, the last competitive citywide election, Independent Expenditures totaled $15.9 million. In 17 out of 41 primary elections for City Council, total independent spending exceeded the individual candidate spending limit and, in nearly half those cases, was more than double the spending limit. Though $31,000 in fines were issued, the problem with coordinating independent expenditures is that it removes limits on contributions and spending to undermine the campaign finance system and the integrity of free and fair elections. As I shared in an interview with Gotham Gazette:
I want to make sure that if there's independent expenditures, which there likely will be, that they have to follow every single rule on the books and that candidates can't get away with cheating to get elected.
Under the proposed legislation, spending by an independent expenditure would immediately reduce candidate spending limits, including but not limited to the following specific instances:
  1. Campaign consultant shared in common;
  2. Fundraising for the independent expenditure by someone in common with the campaign;
  3. Independent expenditures suggested, formed, or requested by the candidate;
  4. Prior relationship between candidate or staff and the subsequent independent expenditure;
  5. Office space shared between candidate or consultants and the independent expenditure; and
  6. Communications between candidate and independent spender through a third-party.
Taken together both bills would seek to prevent illegal coordination between campaigns and independent expenditures by reducing candidate spending limits and fining independent spenders directly. For more information, read the press release at or see coverage by Gotham Gazette.
City Hiring Emergency Snow Laborers
The New York City Department of Sanitation is hiring emergency snow laborers. Snow laborers are per-diem workers who shovel snow and clear ice from bus stops, crosswalks, fire hydrants, streets and other areas after heavy snowfalls. Snow laborers earn $15 per hour, and $22.50 per hour after 40 hours are worked in a week.
Interested in becoming a Snow Laborer—register for a 15-minute application appointment at Appointments will be held at the Department of Sanitation garages. To comply with COVID-related safety protocols, applicants must register in advance for and must wear a mask or face covering while at the registration appointment. Applicants should not attend the appointment if they have COVID-19 symptoms, if they recently traveled to a state with high rates of COVID-19 transmission, or if they recently had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Snow laborers must be:
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Eligible to work in the United States
  • Capable of performing heavy physical labor
All applicants must bring the following items at the time of registration:
  • Two small photos (1 1⁄2 square)
  • Original and copy of two forms of identification
  • Social Security card
For more information, visit.
Virtual First Friday

First Friday Online
Friday, December 4, 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.

This Friday, at the end of our regular meeting, the City's Department of Emergency Management will give a 15-minute virtual presentation on emergency preparedness ahead of our last Go-Bag Giveaway of the year on December 10th from 3pm–5pm. Residents must have attended the virtual presentation during First Friday on December 4th to be eligible to receive a Go-bag at the giveaway.
You must RSVP by Thursday, December 3rd to participate.
Video Conference: RSVP for your URL (create a free account at
Teleconference: RSVP to receive the number and access code
Facebook Live: Skip the RSVP and watch the stream at
Questions must be submitted with RSVP or by email to [email protected]
RSVP now at
Emergency Preparedness Presentation + Go-Bag Giveaway

Emergency Preparedness Presentation + Go-Bag Giveaway 

(Virtual Presentation) Friday, December 4, 9:45am–10:00am
(Go-Bag Giveaway) Thursday, December 10, 3pm–5pm, 244 E 93rd St.

This Friday, December 4th at 9:45am, the City's Department of Emergency Management will give a 15-minute virtual presentation on emergency preparedness. You can pick up your bag from our office at 244 E 93rd St. on December 10th from 3pm–5pm. Residents must have attended the virtual presentation on December 4th to be eligible to receive a Go-bag.

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

Virtual Holiday Party

Virtual Holiday Party
Tuesday, December 15, 6:30pm
You are invited! On Tuesday, December 15th at 6:30pm, join me as we come together virtually to welcome the holiday season with a (non-political) holiday party. Performances and presentations will include:
  • A reunion performance of A Christmas Carol by the New York Classical Theatre
  • The Ghost All Around Us by Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance
  • Seasonal songs by Vocal Ease
  • Dance and song performances by ChaShaMa
You must RSVP by Monday, December 14th to attend.
Video Conference: RSVP for your URL (create a free account at
Teleconference: RSVP to receive the number and access code
Facebook Live: Skip the RSVP and watch the stream at
RSVP now at
Environmental Review for Blood Center Proposal

In November, the New York Blood Center’s proposal for a 300-foot tall tower was presented to Community Board 8. The presentation, which included a shadow study of the impact of the new Blood Center project on St. Catherine's Park, is pictured above. Having seen the shadow study, I expressed my concerns at the beginning of the community board meeting and stayed to hear support, opposition, or solutions since I will have a vote at the end of the process. At the event, there were over 100 people in opposition, with only 20 or so in support. You can see the presentation at Community Board 8 for yourself.

An Environmental Assessment Study (EAS) has determined that this project will have an impact on the environment, which requires an Environmental Impact Study and a scoping session. At the session, you will be able to ask questions and propose items for the study to answer.

Environmental Scoping Session on the New York Blood Center
Tuesday, December 15, 2pm
RSVP Written comments will be accepted through Thursday, December 31. Comments can be submitted by email to [email protected]. I want to hear from you too, so please also submit your statements in support, opposition, solutions, or written testimonies to [email protected].

Free Mask Distributions

As TAPinto reported, I am proud to share that through my collaboration with the East 86th St. Association, a total of 15,000 face masks were distributed over the last month thanks to the hard work of Andrew Fine and volunteers who partnered with my office to ensure the safety and health of residents. We continue our partnership with the community to distribute disposable masks and hand sanitizer. Reach out to our partners to get yours now:
  • Carnegie Hill Neighbors –  Details pending, for updates check
  • Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center (RSVP) – Thursday, December 3rd, 11:15 am–12:15 pm, 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
Play Tennis at Sutton East for $10, Apply for Tennis Scholarship
Any New Yorker can play tennis at the Queensboro Oval all winter long for just $10 per person, per hour. Now you can get a game in before work, over lunch, even late nights. Last September, Sutton East Tennis announced new discounted programming that my office and the New York City Parks Department worked to achieve over the last few years. Winter programming will run for the 30-week season-ending April 11, 2021, and includes:
  • $10 per person during drop-in hours weekday mornings (6am - 8am), afternoons, (1pm - 3pm) and evenings (10pm - midnight) and weekend mornings (6am - 8am) and evenings (8pm - 12pm).
  • $10 per person senior (over 62) offered Monday – Friday at 6am - 8am and 1pm - 3pm. MUST call 212-751-3452 to book. No walk-ins allowed.
I am thankful for the support of Community Board 8, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Assembly Member Dan Quart. Get more information at [email protected] or by calling 212-751-3452.
Sutton East Tennis is also offering scholarships for children ages 3-18 for its 2020-21 Fall/Winter programs. Scholarship applicants must be residents of the City of New York and come from households with an annual income of less than $150,000. For more details, visit
New York Juniors Tennis & Learning Fall Schedule
As the City continues to recover from Covid-19, the New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL) coaches at the Octagon Park in Roosevelt Island are providing the youth of your community with some much-needed physical activity and engagement.
The fall season is scheduled to continue with all NYJTL sites following stringent COVID-19 protocols to protect the health and welfare of NYJTL staff and players. To register, visit
Turkey Giveaway

While Thanksgiving this year will be different for many reasons, I did my best to bring some normalcy to NYCHA residents in my district by delivering free turkeys directly to their doorsteps with the Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center President and Executive Director Gregory Morris, New York Common Pantry and Assemblymembers Dan Quart and Robert Rodriguez. See coverage by Patch and TAPinto.

Showing Support for More Bike Lanes as Captain America Kallos

At Transportation Alternatives’ Halloween-themed bike rally outside of Gracie Mansion, I came as Captain America Kallos! As I told AMNY, whether I am “fighting Nazis, Hydra or the Proud Boys, I rely on a public transit infrastructure to get from borough to borough” and having a single, narrow two-way lane on the Queensborough Bridge for bikes and pedestrians to share is unacceptable.
Offering Hearings Support to Our Veterans at OATH’s Third Citywide Symposium



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 [email protected] 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 [email protected] 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
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


Apply for Heating and Cooling Assistance (HEAP)

Need help paying your energy bill? As of November 2, low-income New Yorkers can apply for heating and cooling assistance under the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).
The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) helps low-income people pay the cost of heating their homes. If you are eligible, you may receive one regular HEAP benefit per season and could also be eligible for an emergency HEAP benefit if you are in impending danger of running out of fuel or having your utility service shut off.
HEAP may be able to help you if you heat your home with:
  • Electricity
  • Natural Gas
  • Oil
  • Coal
  • Propane
  • Wood/Wood Pellets
  • Kerosene
  • Corn
For more information on HEAP, such as eligibility qualifications and how to apply, visit For help applying, reach out to us at [email protected].
Manhattan Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Resource Network
The NYC Small Business Resource Network is a unique private/public partnership to provide our local businesses with the free, personalized guidance they need right now to survive the pandemic. I encourage all small business owners in NYC to sign up for this network today. Once you fill out the brief intake form on our website, businesses will be matched with their own Business Support Specialist who will guide them through a variety of economic recovery resources. Through this program, all five borough Chambers of Commerce have Specialists offering one-on-one support to businesses in their boroughs.
Funded by a $2.8 million grant from the New York City-based Peter G. Peterson Foundation and supported by in-kind contributions from other partners, this collaboration, led by the Partnership for New York City, the NYC Economic Development Corporation and all five Chambers of Commerce, leverages the city’s corporate, financial and professional services sectors, as well as universities, philanthropies and expert volunteers to help small business owners gain access to a range of programs and services.
For more information, visit
Child Mind Institute’s Virtual SEL Student Workshops for NYC DOE Educators
The Child Mind Institute’s Student Success Program would like to invite NYC DOE educators to enroll in its virtual asynchronous Social Emotional Learning (SEL) student workshops. This virtual series is available for students K-12 and includes 6 SEL workshops, which are delivered through Flipgrid.
The SEL workshops address the following topics:
  • Understanding Feelings
  • Relaxation Skills
  • Managing Thoughts
  • Social Problem Solving
  • Managing Intense Emotions
  • Mindfulness Practice 
Each workshop has been divided into short video segments. A clinician assigned to your class will prompt students to submit a video reflection for each workshop. Your clinician will also provide video feedback or written comments to all students once they have submitted their responses via the Flipgrid platform. Interested NYC DOE educators can register here.
NYC Department of Education Launches  Parent University
The New York City Department of Education just launched Parent University, which provides families with access to 95+ free courses, events and activities to support learning from early childhood through adulthood. Parents can register for free workshops on a wide range of topics, including adult education, student social-emotional learning, and special education at
Harmony Program’s Free “Harmony at Home” Beginner Music Lessons
The Harmony Program’s newest initiative “Harmony at Home,” created in response to the ongoing pandemic, is an original series of YouTube-based beginner music lessons. This free, year-long series began on November 16th and consists of weekly, 30-minute lessons in music fundamentals. Their hope is that music educators will incorporate these videos into their music classes and that children and families will enjoy them at home.
Watch a brief introductory video featuring some of the prominent guest artists involved in the effort at
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
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?
  1. 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! 
  2. Encourage leadership: In Read to Lead games, youth are the boss. They must evaluate evidence, make decisions and lead their staff.
  3. 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?
  1. Play the Vital Signs (STEM Immersive) or Community in Crisis (Community Service Immersive) demo.
  2. Visit to learn more about the program.
  3. Contact Kwamara Thompson, [email protected] to arrange a virtual demo and to learn more.
Central Synagogue’s Grab-and-Go Food Program
The Central Synagogue on Lexington and 55th Street serves grab-and-go breakfast and lunch every Thursday and Friday from 6:30-7:30 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].
Tips for Rideshare Safety
Unfortunately, 6% of women in a recent survey reported having felt unsafe during an encounter with a rideshare driver. 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
Upcoming Webinars on Health Care with Kasirer
Kasirer is offering two free webinars on health care this month:
Medicare and Your Choices
December 4, 3pm - 4pm
Description: Are you turning 65 and confused about Medicare? Join us to learn how Medicare works and how to get the best and most affordable option based on your needs.
Understanding and Getting Help with Your Medical Bills
December 11, 4pm - 5pm
Description: Learn about options and consumer protections when dealing with medical bills.
For more information, visit
Search and Care Counseling Program: “Talkin’ it Out”
Need someone to talk to? Try Search and Care’s “Talkin’ it Out” program. Talkin’ it Out is free of charge for adults 60+ and provides safe, confidential, one-on-one telephonic counseling where you can privately express your thoughts and feelings, with no judgment or commitment. Call Search and Care’s Millie or Chris (both bilingual social workers) at 212-289-5300 to learn more.
Search and Care is also increasing its virtual group activities to counteract the isolation and depression impacting our older neighbors. 

On December 11th, Search and Care is offering an advocacy workshop. Many seniors come out to help their electeds stand up for their rights; this is for the even larger group who have something to say but don’t know where to start. Register for this empowerment workshop at

Starting December 9th, Search and Care is launching a virtual book lover’s group, for which a facilitator will read aloud with discussion to follow. Register for Reading Room at

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.
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
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
Hotline Responsibilities
  • 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.
Preferred Qualifications
  • 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, the 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 [email protected] with “Hotline Position” in the subject.
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.
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