About Ben Kallos

Endorsed by The New York Times for his “fresh ideas” and elected in 2013, Ben Kallos represent the East Side and Roosevelt Island in the City Council. He grew up in the neighborhood with his grandparents who fled anti-Semitism in Europe and his mother who still lives here.

MORE SCHOOL SEATS AND STEM FUNDING
Won 400 universal Pre-Kindergarten seats for the district and invested millions for STEM (Science, Technology & Math) in public schools.

FIGHTING CORRUPTION
Authored laws to prohibit outside income, limit influence of lobbyists and eliminate “legal bribery”; and investigated the Rivington nursing home scandal.

INVESTING IN BETTER PARKS
Secured more than $150 million to rehabilitate and expand the East River Esplanade with Congressmember Maloney.

HOLDING THE MTA ACCOUNTABLE
Helped open the 2nd Avenue Subway on-time with Governor Cuomo, secured three East Side ferry stops, added off-board payment to M79 and M86, and won 79 new buses for the M15.

EXPANDING AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Won two consecutive rent freezes for 1.1 million rent-stabilized tenants and passed Mandatory Inclusionary Housing.

CLEANING UP THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Purchased 300 new trash cans to keep more than 100 intersections clean and litter free.

OPPOSING THE MARINE TRANSFER STATION
Exposed high costs, moved the ramp, and limited to only using one-third of capacity to keep 300 trucks off our roads—let’s dump the dump.

Updates

Press Coverage
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

It’s really hard to get parents to come to community-board meetings,” he said in a phone interview. “Along with that comes a lack of diversity in the people I see involved in government and politics.”

There isn’t yet a cost estimate for the legislation, Mr. Kallos said. The measure would require the city to provide child care upon request through the Administration for Children’s Services, the child-welfare agency.

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Press Release

New York, NY – Parents interested in having a say in local government could have free child care provided by the city under proposed legislation by Council Member Ben Kallos. The legislation was announced today in honor of the United Nations Women's founding of HeForShe and launch of IMPACT 10x10x10 Parity. It was inspired by a move to provide childcare at conferences in academia, civic technology, and by NYC Community Education Council 2. Countless parents have found childcare to be a challenge to their professional careers, not to mention civic engagement.
 
“It actually costs parents money to be civically engaged,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, who grew up with a single mother and now offers free child care at his annual events. “How can democracy work when we exclude parents from representing the interests of themselves and their children because they may not have access to child care? If we want to build an inclusive democracy here in New York City it means offering free child care when we want to hear from any New Yorker who has children.”
 
 

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Press Coverage
Friday, September 15, 2017

Councilman Ben Kallos doesn’t represent the Bronx, but he bets he knows what the views are like.

“We are in the unfortunate situation where if I am standing under one scaffolding in the city, I can look around and see another set of scaffolding,” said Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side and Midtown. “There’s scaffolding everywhere — there is literally hundreds of miles of it.”

Yet, sidewalk sheds are nearly impossible to enforce, Kallos said, because the law only requires scaffolding to be put up and for landlords to have a permit for it. There’s nothing in the law that dictates when such scaffolding needs to come down.

“There is scaffolding in this city that is almost old enough to vote,” he said. “It is a problem all over the city.”

The existing law, according to Councilman Andrew Cohen, creates an environment like the one that allowed sidewalk sheds to stay in front of the historic Tracey Towers at 20 and 40 W. Mosholu Parkway S., for four years.

“That recently came down, and that was transformative,” Cohen said. “It was unsightly and, you know, disruptive. There was a celebratory mood at Tracey Towers when the scaffolding came down, that’s for sure.”

Yet, there could be hope for people sick of living with sidewalk sheds. Last year, Kallos introduced a bill to city council placing time limits on how long scaffolding can be left in front of buildings. 

The bill proposes a hard, six-month deadline for sidewalk sheds, requiring workers be present six days a week, and that work not stop for more than seven days at a time while such scaffolding is in place.

If a landlord can’t afford — or worst yet, doesn’t want to do — the work, Kallos said the city would step in and bill the landlord later.

“Deadlines are good things — it’s how things get done,” Kallos said. “It’s how every other part of the private sector works.”

Yet, it’s not how things get done in city council. Debate hasn’t opened on the bill yet because he needs 30 council members to sign on. His tally so far? Just two — Ydanis Rodriguez, whose district dips into Marble Hill, and Karen Koslowitz in Forest Hills.

One of the bill’s biggest enemies, Kallos said, could very well be the real estate lobby — groups like the Real Estate Board of New York, and the Rent Stabilization Association. In fact, when the bill was first proposed, Real Estate Board senior vice president Carl Hum called it “ill-conceived.” RSA representatives blasted the bill because it doesn’t account for the financial burden landlords would have to shoulder to pay for the work in these shorter spurts of time.

Cohen has a different idea, however. He thinks Kallos’ bill is too stringent, and although he is open to changing the way sidewalk sheds are regulated, he prefers a system with fees instead of hard deadlines.

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Press Release

“Tech now has a new home in New York City on Roosevelt Island at Cornell Tech. We are growing jobs and educating the next leaders of the tech economy right here on Roosevelt Island so the next big thing in tech will be 'Made in New York,” said City Council Member Ben Kallos, a tech entrepreneur. “Welcome to Cornell Tech, Dean Dan Huttenlocher and thank you to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the vision, Mayor de Blasio and RIOC President Susan Rosenthal for making it happen, and the Roosevelt Island community for being a part of this every step of the way. I look forward to working with Cornell Tech on bringing millions in investment to growing companies on Roosevelt Island and in New York City.”

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Press Coverage
Friday, September 8, 2017

New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced this week that the city's 1.1 million public school students will receive free lunch. This program comes as the city changed the way it reports its data to the Washington, making it eligible for the lunch expansion at no additional cost to taxpayers.

While individual families are set to save roughly $300 a year on school lunches, the issue touches on much more than cost. Incidents of "food shaming" have been reported at schools around the country, as students are often targeted on the lunch line for their family's inability to pay off their meal debt.

Could this new program serve as a model to districts around the country? New York City Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents New Yorkers in the Upper West Side and Roosevelt Island, joins The Takeaway to discuss the importance of ensuring that every student receives lunch at school.

This segment is hosted by Todd Zwillich.

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Press Coverage
Friday, September 8, 2017

The New York City Council has been a vocal supporter of enacting the free lunch program; many members cited stories of students who would rather skip lunch than admit to their fellow students that they couldn’t afford to buy it, including Councilman Ben Kallos, who recounted his past struggles as a student at Bronx High School of Science.

“I had to choose between friends and food,” he said. “I hope no child makes the same poor choices I did.”

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Press Coverage
New York Times
Thursday, September 7, 2017

Breakfast had already been free systemwide, school officials said, and the city’s stand-alone middle schools had a universal free-lunch pilot in place since 2014 that fed an additional 10,000 children who would not necessarily have qualified for free or discounted lunches, officials said.

Among the parade of speakers at Wednesday’s announcement was City Councilman Ben Kallos, who recounted his own experience with the stigma of subsidized school meals.

He grew up on the Upper East Side and, like many of his neighbors, attended Bronx High School of Science. But his mother’s income in his single-parent household was low enough that he qualified for reduced-price lunches — a fact he tried to hide from his peers by not eating.

“I had to choose between friends and food,” Mr. Kallos said. “I hope no child makes the same poor choices I did.”

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Press Coverage
Thursday, September 7, 2017

However, many schools still enact an array of measures to get students to pay for their lunch. In Alabama last year, a third-grader who couldn't pay a lunch bill was given a stamp on his arm that said, "I need lunch money," reported AL.com.

New York City councilman Ben Kallos said he remembers the stigma he felt as a child when he couldn't afford lunch.

"I had to choose between friends and food," Kallos said. "I hope no child makes the same poor choices I did."

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