Press Releases

August 16, 2017

Yesterday’s lawsuit against a company owned by Jared Kushner highlights the City of New York's obligation to ensure tenants are not being cheated by unscrupulous landlords. The allegations are yet more proof of a broken system that allows landlords to charge tenants more than they are legally allowed. After exhaustive research by ProPublica, it is estimated that 50,000-200,000 units in New York City may be illegally rented at market rate. This issue is one of the most serious problems in our fight for affordable housing and why I authored Introduction 1015.
 Introduction 1015 requires all owners of any affordable units in New York City to register those units with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and disclose the monthly rent. That allows the City to track the locations of these units and verify they are being rented at or below the legally allowable rate and fine bad landlords who flout the law.
 
While State law requires landlords to register with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the penalties for non-compliance were removed in 1993. It is a law without teeth, unable to force or persuade landlords to comply.
 
I applaud Housing Rights Initiative for their thorough research into these properties. But it should not have taken over a month of painstaking efforts to find this information. It should be as easy as going to HPD’s website. More importantly, the City should be doing this proactively.

 

August 9, 2017

New York, NY – Council Member Ben Kallos Vice Chair of the caucus was the prime sponsor of Int. 930 and 931 which aim to correct the behavior of  landlords and building owners that neither fix reoccurring problems on their properties nor pay the fines that go along with those violations, putting tenants in unsafe conditions sometimes for years on end. The Stand For Tenant Safety (STS) legislative package will offer greater protection for tenants, especially in regards to the use of construction as harassment by landlords. STS was pushed by a citywide alliance of grassroots tenant organizations and legal service groups collaborating with the Progressive Caucus.

 

"Believe it or not, construction being used to harass and push tenants out is a huge problem in New York City. This package of legislation aims to fix the behavior of unscrupulous landlords who cut corners, neglect repairs and take advantage of loopholes to hurt tenants and avoid paying fines. Thank you to the coalition of tenant organizations and legal service groups that worked for two years to get these bills passed, “said Council Member Ben Kallos Vice chair of the Progressive Caucus.

 

August 3, 2017

New York, NY – Upper East Side bus riders may have noticed something new on their rides, bus countdown clocks showing when the next bus is coming. The bus countdown clocks were actually voted for by local residents in Participatory Budgeting and are a part of Council Member Ben Kallos’ fight against service cuts to the M31, M66, M72, and other bus routes in the neighborhood.
 
“I hope that new bus countdown clocks will bring more riders back to our buses, as they walk by and see a bus on the way to help get them where they are going faster,” said Council Member Ben Kallos who rides the M15, M31, and M79 through the district. “Riders will finally know when the next bus is coming or if it isn’t coming at all, so they can make that crucial decision of whether it is faster to ride or walk. I hope to have a bus countdown clock anywhere my constituents will use them so please reach out for one at your bus stop today.”
 
“Neighborhoods flourish when they have a multitude of transportation options, and NYC DOT is proud to work with the community and CM Kallos to continue bringing transportation upgrades to the Upper East Side,” said DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Luis Sanchez.  “With the arrival of Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) bus countdown clocks, and a new Citi Bike station in this district, Upper East Siders are able to receive visual and audible real-time bus arrival information should they decide to get around by bus, as well as a denser Citi Bike network should they choose to bike.”
 
The bus countdown clocks were three years in the making. In 2014, Rider’s Alliance advocated for bus countdown clocks in the city’s capital budget, but was met with some skepticism by Council Member Ben Kallos, who agreed to add the bus countdown clocks to Participatory Budgeting where residents voted on how to spend one million dollars in the community.

 

August 2, 2017

Statement: Council Member Ben Kallos on Voter Data Release
 Today’s decision by the New York State Board of Elections is a shameful capitulation to the President’s fear mongering about voter fraud. Allegations of widespread voter fraud have repeatedly been disproven and there exists no evidence to suggest it occurred in last November’s election or any election.
 
The President’s sham commission is nothing more than yet another Republican attempt to restrict voting rights and only serves to perpetuate dangerous myths and spread doubt about our democratic process. That the commissioners of the State Board of Elections would assist such a commission casts doubt on their integrity and their commitment to protecting the personal data of New York’s 12.5 million voters.

 

July 25, 2017

NEW YORK—The Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications today released the annual update to the NYC Open Data Plan, a schedule of public datasets City agencies plan to release through 2018. Over the last year, agencies have released datasets across hundreds of categories, from the number of trees planted to FDNY incident dispatch numbers. The annual update is part of Open Data for All, a strategic overhaul around how the City collects and reports data to New Yorkers, with a focus on helping as many New Yorkers as possible view, understand, and engage with information that describes how government is helping them live, work, and play.

"Open Data empowers residents with data they need to learn about city services first hand and is an invaluable tool for elected officials like me to analyze and oversee how our city delivers services,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “In particular, I’m excited to see the inclusion of the Programs and Benefits API. Residents can now get the help they need from a list of benefits available, who qualifies and how to apply. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and DoITT Commissioner Anne Roest for continuing to make New York City more transparent with each new data set."

 

 

July 24, 2017

"We are breaking ground on a new East River Esplanade that was literally crumbling into the river after generations of neglect," said Council Member Ben Kallos, who advocated for the $41 million in the City's budget for this work and co-chairs the East River Esplanade Task Force with Congress Member Carolyn Maloney. "Having already secured this funding, we were able to get shovels in the ground soon after the sea wall collapse occurred here at Carl Schurz Park. This investment spans two Council Districts to fix various collapses and sinkholes between 63rd and 125th Streets. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for agreeing to provide $35 million in initial funding for the Esplanade, the Parks Department for getting these repairs started in time to address the recent collapse, and Congress Member Carolyn Maloney for prioritizing our waterfronts and her longstanding co-leadership of the East River Esplanade Task Force."

 

 

July 24, 2017

"As an elected official, it's in my job description to stand with my constituents -- all of my constituents. Many New York residents are immigrants, and all of us should do what we can to actively welcome them into our city. I'd like to extend a huge thanks to the hackers and programmers who showed up today to say that they do," said Councilman Ben Kallos, New York City Council, 5th District.

 

 

July 21, 2017

The New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of tenants at 90 West Street who sued their landlord after their rents were substantially raised, even though their apartments were stabilized through 421(g). In August 2016, Public Advocate James, along with 37 elected officials, filed an amicus brief in support of the tenants who were forced to pay unfair rent increases by their landlord on their rent stabilized apartments. The judge ruled that the tenants will maintain their rent stabilized status and a referee will be appointed to determine damages. 

This is the second lawsuit involving 421(g) that tenants have won this month to protect all units of affordable housing that received the 421(g) tax abatement. On July 3, the New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of tenants at 50 Murray Street who also sued their landlord when rents were substantially raised despite being stabilized through 421(g).

“New York City's housing crisis is harming our City one family at a time,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “This case was clear from the beginning: greedy landlords trying to double dip and cheat the system by cashing in on luxury deregulation exclusions while at the same time getting tax breaks for rent controlled units. The law is clear and it must be followed. Thank you to Tish James for being the advocate and attorney for millions of rent regulated New Yorkers who now more than ever need vigorous, committed defenders.”

 

July 20, 2017

Upper East Side- NY Compost On–the-Go, is a new program from GrowNYC’s zero waste initiatives funded by the NYC Department of Sanitation. Compost On–the-Go increases access to food waste composting for New Yorkers in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan.  Conveniently located near transit, drop-off sites are staffed by friendly compost coordinators ready to accept fruit and vegetable scraps as residents head out to start the day. In support of this environmentally savvy program Council Member Ben Kallos  joined a team of GrowNYC volunteers and employees at the 96th Street & Lexington Ave (6 Train) station on Thursday July 20th at 10am. Residents who wish to participate in composting are encouraged to drop off acceptable items every Wednesday from 7:15 am to 10:30am.  DSNY will transport collected scraps to a regional facility to be transformed into compost.