Press Releases

April 18, 2017

New York, NY – Tenants and advocates with the Stand for Tenant Safety (STS) Coalition will testify at a hearing today beginning at 10 AM for five of the twelve bills in the STS legislative package which aims to reform the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB). The STS Coalition is a citywide alliance of grassroots tenant organizations and legal service groups collaborating with the Progressive Caucus and the eleven City Council prime sponsors to push for greater protection for tenants, especially in regards to the use of construction as harassment by landlords.

The five bills that will be heard at the Committee on Housing and Buildings hearing encompass:

·         Construction Task Force (Intro 0926): This bill would create a task force on construction work in occupied multiple dwellings.

·         Building Code Violations (Intro 0931): This bill would provide that building code violations adjudicated before Environmental Control Board would constitute tax liens on the property.

·         Tenant Protection Plans (Intro 0936): This bill amends information required in tenant protection plans (TPP) and prescribes measures to ensure compliance with the TPP.

·         Permit Oversight (Intro 0938): This bill requires increased oversight of construction contractors who have engaged in work without a required permit.

·         Construction Bill of Rights (Intro 0960): This bill creates a safe construction bill of rights.

These bills together give tenants better protection from dangerous construction and help DOB to enforce already existing laws. Without these bills, unscrupulous landlords can use loopholes in the city’s enforcement to create hazardous construction conditions to push tenants out of their homes.

"Construction as harassment continues to be a huge problem in our communities. We are saying that enough is enough and calling on the administration to implement reforms to the Department of Buildings that will help to end this practice," said Council Member Antonio Reynoso, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.

"The Stand for Tenant Safety legislative package sets out to correct the behavior of the worst landlords, who will face the threat of foreclosure if they fail to fix long-ignored repairs," said Council Member Ben Kallos, Vice Chair for Policy of the Progressive Caucus. "For too long some landlords and building owners have neither fixed reoccurring problems on their properties nor paid the fines that go along with those violations, putting tenants in unsafe conditions sometimes for years on end."

"Tenant harassment, which often comes in the form of illegal or unscrupulous construction work, robs New Yorkers of their homes and exacerbates the city’s affordable housing crisis. This month, the City Council is reviewing several critical bills – collectively called Stand for Tenant Safety – designed to ensure that the Department of Buildings will prevent abusive construction work and serve New York City tenants, not just owners and contractors. The Stand for Tenant Safety bill package will ultimately make it easier to hold abusive landlords accountable and help tenants protect their homes,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Vice-Chair for Budget Advocacy of the Progressive Caucus.

“As the lead sponsors of another part of this vital DOB reform package, we are pleased that these five bills are moving forward,” said Council Members Margaret S. Chin and Carlos Menchacamembers of the Progressive Caucus, who jointly introduced Intro 918, a bill to fix a flawed inspection system favoring landlords at the expense of tenants. “Unfortunately, for far too many New Yorkers, the problem of tenant harassment and displacement by landlords is only getting worse. We are proud to join a growing number of Council colleagues, advocates and tenants to demand action to protect the quality of life of residents and to keep families in their homes.”


April 13, 2017

Background: In partnership with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Council Member Ben Kallos worked to bring the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for application to the Innovation Center’s Accountable Health Communities (AHC) Model to public health institutions throughout New York City.  STATEMENT:
 Even the best medical treatment offered here in New York City can’t succeed when patients can’t take care of themselves. For far too long, we’ve only focused on treating medical conditions, without treating the underlying causes in the community that lead to them.   Automatic Benefits legislation would require anyone applying or who qualifies for one human service benefits from the government to be screened for and provided with all other applicable benefits so that New Yorkers get not some but all of the help they need.
Thank you to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovations for investing in, encouraging, and studying what happens when you connect patients with community service providers to address their health-related social needs.
I am proud to represent New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) which was one of 32 organizations selected nationwide for Assistance and Alignment Tracks of the Accountable Health Communities Model. New York Presbyterian Hospital is on the Alignment Track to encourage partner alignment to ensure that community services are available and responsive to the needs of beneficiaries.  



April 13, 2017

New York, NY - Fidel F. Del Valle, Commissioner and Chief Administrative Law Judge of the City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) and Council Member Ben Kallos kicked off OATH’s CourtESy (Court’s Education for Seniors) Program today at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, on the Upper East Side. Through the new CourtESy program, OATH aims to bring information about the hearing process directly to our City’s senior citizens. 

The forum explained what to do when a resident or property owner receives a summons and highlighted OATH’s Remote Hearing Methods, which give residents who received summons­es the ability to fight the tickets at their convenience and without having to travel to attend the OATH hearing in person.  “As the City’s central independent administrative law court, OATH’s top priority is to make it as easy as possible for those who have been issued summonses from City enforcement agencies to have their day in court,” said OATH Commissioner and Chief Administrative Law Judge, Fidel F. Del Valle. “OATH recognizes that there are many reason why it may be difficult to attend a hearing in person so we have worked diligently to make it possible for recipients of the most commonly issued summonses to fight those summonses remotely by using OATH’s  Hearings Online, Hearings by Mail, Hearings by Phone or Video (webcam) Hearings. Through our CourtESy program, OATH is working to make sure that the City’s senior residents know about these convenient hearing methods and how to utilize them effectively.” 


March 31, 2017

"The rent freezes have begun to correct decades of rent increases given to landlords even when there was no inflation year after year. New York's 1 million rent-stabilized tenants deserve the rent freezes after years of rent increases that outpaced the consumer price index," said Councilmember Ben Kallos.


March 31, 2017

NEW YORK, March 30, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following last week's construction accident that left a hoist dangerously dangling hundreds of feet in the air above thousands of passersby, today construction workers, elected officials, and community activists gathered at 200 E59th Street to call attention to this unsafe Gilbane job site and their subcontractor, Tradeoff, firing of a worker who requested a safety harness on the job.

"Thousands of lives were put at risk last week because Gilbane was more concerned about their bottom line than the safety of their workers and the community," said Mike Hellstrom, Director of Organizing of the Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York. "Their work with Tradeoff on this job shows their lack of commitment to the workers they employ. Firing someone for requesting personal protective equipment on the job is not just wrong, it should be criminal."

Without stringent safety and training standards for construction workers in New York City, accidents of this kind and retaliatory firings will continue to happen and worker's lives will remain at risk. Activists today are urging the New York City Council to pass lifesaving legislation, Intro 1447, that would set safety and training standards for all construction workers in New York City.



March 29, 2017

Thank you for reaching out with your concerns about a mentally ill woman on the Upper East Side. We share your compassion for her well-being and concern for the safety of those around her, and we want to advise you of our best options here.

As many of you have noted in your comments, she is suffering from a mental illness, and as a City and a community, we must do everything we can to get her the help that she needs. As you likely know, mental illness in itself is not a crime, but physical assault of any kind, including spitting on someone, is -- and it will not be tolerated.



March 27, 2017



March 24, 2017



March 16, 2017

National Women’s History Museum in Washington, D.C. Called for by
New York City Council Resolution

Resolution in Support of American Museum of Women’s History Congressional Commission recommendation for a new Smithsonian Museum for American Women’s History on the National Mall

New York, NY – A National Women’s History Museum is being called for by a New York City Council Resolution introduced as we commemorate Women’s History month. The resolution introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, along with Council Members Karen Koslowitz, Jimmy Van Bramer, Laurie Cumbo and Elizabeth Crowley calls on the Federal Government to create a National Women’s History Museum in Washington D.C.
In July 2014, Council Member Kallos and Cumbo introduced Resolution 354, which was adopted on September 10, 2014, calling on the United States Senate to pass and the President to sign H.R. 3979 of 2014 sponsored by Congress Members Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), which was signed by President Obama on December 19, 2014, becoming Public Law 113-291 and established the American Museum of Women’s History Congressional Commission. On November 16, 2016, the Commission presented a report to the President and Congress calling for the creation by the Smithsonian of an American Museum of Women’s History on the national mall.