Press Releases

June 14, 2015

This year, I am calling on the Rent Guidelines Board to vote for a rent rollback. Our tenants have endured an undue rent burden, with high increases year after year. Meanwhile, income cannot keep pace and only crept up by 2.3% between 2005 and 2013 in real terms.

Last year, the Board voted for a historic low 1% increase for one-year leases and 2.75% for two-year leases—but that did not correct for the disproportionately high increases of previous years.

The approved rent increases each year have largely been based upon the landlord’s operating costs, measured by the price index of operating cost (PIOC). This practice not only fails to consider tenants, but has also proven to be inaccurate: based upon data from the DOF, the PIOC has overstated landlord costs by 11% since 2005. This miscalculation led to unfairly high rent increases in past years, which must be corrected with a rent rollback.

Those increases have come with consequences. A unit is considered affordable if the rent is no higher than 30% of their household income. The median rent-to-income ratio of tenants in rent stabilized apartment is 36.4%. By this standard, a majority of rent-stabilized tenants have units that are not affordable. The stress of financial insecurity takes a toll on New Yorkers every day.

A rent rollback is also economically feasible for landlords. Even by the slanted standards of the PIOC, operating costs only increased by a mere .5% this year. We have an opportunity to correct for years of high rent increases and subsequent burden on tenants, without greatly burdening landlords. After so many years of only considering landlord costs, it is time to consider the needs of our tenants. This is a city of renters, but we will only remain one if we vigorously protect the affordable housing we already have. Please join us by voting for a rent rollback this year. 

 

June 12, 2015

Following NBC4 and AP reports of a woman, Mary Grace Belfi, severely injured after being hit at 86th and First Avenue by a cyclist, Council Member Ben Kallos released the following statement:

"My thoughts and prayers are with Mary Grace Belfi and her family in this difficult time. No one should have to go through what they are now going through. This devastating collision is a call to action to fight harder to ensure all can be safe in our streets. I hope the suspect who fled the scene will soon be apprehended."

 

June 10, 2015

 New York, NY — A four-bill legislative package to improve how the city issues and collects fines for Environmental Control Board (ECB) violations, was announced today by New York City Council Members Ben Kallos and Julissa Ferreras. The Environmental Control Board (ECB) is a city tribunal that adjudicates “quality of life” violations issued by 13 city agencies. After the decision, the fines are collected by the Department of Finance or referred to the Law Department or a third-party debt collector. Of the debt referred to the Department of Finance, 90% has been issued a default judgment, making it extremely challenging to collect. Eighty-four percent of debt owed to is over two years old.
  

 

June 8, 2015

New York, NY— Today, Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) joined tenants, advocates and colleagues to call for a rent rollback in public testimony before the Rent Guidelines Board. The following is Council Member Kallos' testimony, as prepared for delivery:

 

June 5, 2015

New York, NY – The following statement can be attributed to Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), on the Mayor's plan to insource IT jobs:

"Government is getting more high tech by insourcing jobs. I am proud to have advocated for in-sourcing in the city budget at oversight hearings since I took office, and I look forward to seeing far more in-sourcing in future years. Congratulations to Mayor de Blasio on signing an agreement to in-source IT work when possible, saving the city up to $3.6 million this year."

 

May 29, 2015

New York, NY – The following statement can be attributed to Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), a software developer and Chair of the New York City Council Committee on Governmental Operations, on FCC Chair Tom Wheeler's proposal to modernize the Lifeline program to include broadband:

"Lifeline provides low-income Americans with the utilities they need, which must include Internet. I have been advocating for Lifeline for Internet and thank FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler for his leadership on a Federal level. Lifeline is the tool we need to provide low-cost Internet to low-income New Yorkers for truly universal broadband that can finally begin to narrow the digital divide."

 

May 27, 2015

“With fireworks on the East River, Roosevelt Islanders and East Siders should have a great vantage point with which to view them,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “I am thrilled that the fireworks have been moved back to where many New Yorkers, from Brooklyn to Queens to Manhattan can enjoy them.”

 

May 27, 2015

I was pleased to recently join the Communications Department at SUNY Albany, my alma mater, for their Commencement ceremony.

 

May 20, 2015

  New York, NY— Pesticides in parks would be limited by a bill announced today by Council Member Ben Kallos among members of the kindergarten and first grade class at PS 290, who first advocated for the city legislation. The law, co-sponsored by Council Member Helen Rosenthal, would require that the city use only biological pesticides, derived from natural materials, instead of synthetic, traditional pesticides--except under necessary circumstances. The EPA maintains that biological pesticides tend to be less toxic and safer than synthetic pesticides. The bill will be introduced on May 27.

 

 

May 20, 2015

Roosevelt Island, NY—After a 20-year-old was shot in the abdomen on April 25 in the Roosevelt Landings Complex, stakeholders announced the launch of a Law Enforcement Explorers Program to provide a safe and productive outlet for young Roosevelt Islanders. A May 27 event at Good Shepherd Center at 7 p.m., co-sponsored by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, the 114th Precinct, RIOC and the Public Safety Department will introduce the community to the Law Enforcement Explorers and young people sign up.