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Monday, April 25, 2016

Mayor de Blasio, NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer and Speaker Mark-Viverito Announce Grand Opening of New Health Center in South Bronx

Damian Center part of ‘Caring Neighborhoods Initiative’ and replaces previous for-profit medical facility, average number of patients doubled

(photo from office of the mayor)
NEW YORK–– Mayor de Blasio, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President Maria Torres-Springer and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito recently announced the grand opening of the Damian Family Care Center’s Third Avenue Family Health Center, a new community health center providing more than 10,000 people in the South Bronx with access to healthcare regardless of a patient’s ability to pay.
“Today, we take another step towards expanding availability to primary care, and providing high-quality and comprehensive healthcare to everyday New Yorkers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “No New Yorker should have to decide between their basic needs and their healthcare costs. Damian Center will be accessible to all Bronx residents, regardless of their income.”
"The Damian Center's Third Avenue Family Health Center will provide much needed access to healthcare for residents of the South Bronx," said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. "As a proud representative of the South Bronx in the City Council, I'm happy to work with the de Blasio administration and the Economic Development Corporation to bring healthcare access to as many as 100,000 new patients in this community."
“There are fewer challenges more pressing than addressing health disparities between communities,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. “No person’s health should be determined by his or her zip code. The opening of the Third Avnue Family Care Center is a great achievement in the effort to bring quality, affordable health care to underserved neighborhoods. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for making this important issue a top priority of his administration.”
The Third Avenue Family Health Center opens as part of the Caring Neighborhoodsinitiative, a vital part of the administration’s commitment to reduce health disparities through building primary care capacity in neighborhoods where New Yorkers have faced limited options for convenient and affordable health care services. In total, over 100,000 new patients will be able to receive care in their own neighborhoods thanks to the community health centers expanded through Caring Neighborhoods.
The City committed $20 million over two years in its Fiscal Year 2016 budget to cover pre-development and start-up operating costs for new health centers.
“Access to healthcare is a fundamental right, and an essential part of any complete neighborhood,” said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer. “That’s why our Community Health Center Expansion Program is helping fulfil the Mayor’s pledge to provide much needed care to under-served communities throughout the five boroughs. Not only are we working together to improve community health, we’re also creating quality jobs for New Yorkers in their own neighborhoods.”
The Third Avenue Family Care Center opening is a result of concerted efforts to build stronger neighborhoods and address longstanding health disparities. Because of the administration’s efforts, the Damian Family Care Center is able to take over a previous for-profit medical facility while doubling the average number of patient visits per year and ensuring primary care is available to all regardless of ability to pay.
The Third Avenue Family Health Center will provide comprehensive care at this site including primary, dental, child and adult behavioral health care, specialty services and an on-site pharmacy. The health center is located several blocks away from two schools and three New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) public housing developments, ensuring patient accessibility. The site is expected to treat over 10,000 patients annually when at full capacity.
The Damian team, led by President and CEO Peter Grisafi, is committed to improving the compensation, benefits and job quality for their staff at the Third Avenue Family Health Center, which consists of 90 percent Bronx residents. Through the support from NYCEDC’s Community Health Center Expansion Program, Damian was able to preserve 60 jobs during the site takeover, and continues to create new staff positions.
As part of Caring Neighborhood’s strategic approach to expanding primary care, NYCEDC’s Community Health Center Expansion Program provides a range of support to Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and FQHC look-alikes. There are over 30 non-profit health centers that already provide high-quality primary care in New York City and seek to expand their services in high-needs neighborhoods. The program seeks to accelerate the creation of these health centers by making available on a competitive basis up to $8 million in grants, real estate assistance to help identify new health center sites in underserved neighborhoods including potentially City-affiliated properties, and one-on-one technical assistance, among other benefits.
This effort is the latest in NYCEDC’s portfolio of programs to generate shared prosperity for all New Yorkers. As the City’s primary engine for economic growth, NYCEDC is committed to strengthening neighborhoods and growing quality jobs by building community assets and ensuring that those community assets – like community health centers – have the resources to scale up. NYCEDC’s Healthcare Desk leads healthcare enterprises to more equitable and profitable business models for both workers and employers through programs addressing health technology adoption, payment reform, real estate transformation, and health inequities.
The Caring Neighborhoods initiative complements the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH) initiative to support the integration of public health and primary care in high-need neighborhoods by revitalizing its underutilized buildings to co-locate community-based organizations and providers of medical, dental and mental health services. It also complements the administration’s work to improve healthcare access for immigrant New Yorkers, as recently detailed in a report by the Mayor’s Task Force on Immigrant Health Care Access.
As noted in the report, FQHCs are critical healthcare safety-net providers, delivering culturally competent primary care in community-based settings in neighborhoods with high concentrations of immigrant New Yorkers.
The healthcare sector is the leading employer in New York City, providing approximately 515,500 jobs, approximately 18,500 of which were created over the last year. In 2015, the federal government awarded $8.6 million in New Access Point annual operating grant funding for FQHCs in New York City; the de Blasio administration provided letters of support for many of these applicants.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Photos | Overseas Voting in New York - Philippine Elections 2016

Overseas Voting has started and the Philippine Consulate General in New York serves as the polling precinct to almost 26,000 registered voters under its consular jurisdiction of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. (Photos taken on April 14, 2016)

Photos by Lambert Parong for Kababayan Media/ CC BY

Postal Voting. Consul Kerwin Tate of the Special Board of Election Inspectors in NY feeds a ballot into a voting counting machine with attentive poll watchers and gov't representatives.

Deputy Consul General Kira Danganan-Azucena (left) at the precinct as Consul Kerwin Tate verify a ballot with observers present.

Poll watchers sign-in for the day.

Personal Voting. Registered voters check their names and status of their voting ballot with the staff at the  precinct.

Polling precinct. The Philippine Consulate General in New York transformed into a polling precinct for the almost 26,000 registered voters under its consular jurisdiction.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Archbishop Bernardito Auza | Statement On Security Council Open Debate On Threats To International Peace And Security By Terrorist Acts

H. E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza (
New York - On April 14, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, gave an intervention during the Security Council Open Debate dedicated to “Threats to International Peace and Security by Terrorist Acts.”  
In his statement, Archbishop Auza spoke about the fundamental threat to our common humanity from the ongoing and escalating use of terror. He said that the internationalization of terror can be countered only by a collective international response that addresses the root causes that feed violent extremism. Part of that response must involve controlling the cyber technologies that terrorist groups use to recruit young people, finance their activities and coordinate attacks. He called for the outlawing of collaboration with terrorist groups and for the challenging of Member States that abet or shelter terrorist groups and specified that in the Middle East terrorist must not be permitted to destroy centuries of peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims. He also reminded the international community that the eradication of terrorism will not happen solely by military means but through a culture of encounter and dialogue that promotes mutual acceptance and inclusive societies.
His statement can be found here.

Mayor de Blasio, Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Agarwal Announce 13th Annual Immigrant Heritage Week Celebration

2016 Celebrations Mark the Launch of NYCitizenship Services

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner Nisha Agarwal of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs recently announced the start of Immigrant Heritage Week 2016. The citywide celebration, which includes events across the five boroughs from April 17-23, features a rich collection of programs. The theme for 2016, “From Many, Making NYC One,” reflects the many ways in which New York City immigrant communities contribute to the vitality of our city, including civic and economic participation, cultural contributions and an ongoing commitment to civil rights and justice.
“New York City is an amalgamation of cultures and nationalities, and we strive to be inclusive of each and every one of them. What better way to advance this goal than to celebrate inclusivity with the beginning of Immigrant Heritage Week, during which we will be kicking off NYCitzenship to help immigrant New Yorkers take the final leap into becoming citizens. It is an honor to partake in such meaningful celebration,” said Mayor de Blasio.
“During this Immigrant Heritage Week, the de Blasio administration will expand our ongoing work to ensure that all immigrant New Yorkers have access to justice and city services,” said Commissioner Nisha Agarwal of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “Through the launch of NYCitizenship, immigrant New Yorkers will have the support they need as they pursue a pathway to citizenship. Further, Immigrant Heritage Week’s dialogue and events will demonstrate New York City’s commitment to include all New Yorkers in the fabric of our City, regardless of their status.”

“During Immigrant Heritage Week, we acknowledge and celebrate the cultural richness that New York City’s immigrant communities bring to our everyday lives,” said Commission on Human Rights Commissioner and Chair Carmelyn P. Malalis‎. “As the daughter of immigrants from the Philippines, I have a strong appreciation for the sacrifices made and courage involved in moving to this country from other lands. I also share in the pride of immigrants and their communities as their many contributions are felt and enjoyed by all New Yorkers. At the Commission, we are dedicated to protecting every New Yorker from discrimination, including our immigrant brothers and sisters, so that everyone can benefit from the diversity that makes this city the greatest city in the world.”

"Our city was built by immigrants, and immigrants remain our city's heart and soul," said Public Advocate Letitia James. "This week, we take extra time to recognize and celebrate our immigrant communities. As individuals running for our nation's highest office spew xenophobic rhetoric, I remind immigrants that in New York, we will never stop working to provide fair and equal opportunities for all."
During Immigrant Heritage Week 2016, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs will formally launch NYCitizenship services. Approximately 650,000 immigrant New Yorkers are one step away from citizenship. NYCitizenship will provide free citizenship services and financial counseling at 12 public library branches alongside services available at the New York City Human Resources Administration sites. NYCitizenship was first announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio during the City’s first-ever Citizenship Week of Action. To make an appointment, New York City residents simply have to call 311 and say “citizenship appointment.”
NYCitizenship is a collaborative effort by the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, Queens Library, New York City Human Resources Administration, New York Legal Assistance Group, and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, with support from Citi Community Development, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Robin Hood Foundation.
“By offering naturalization services, legal assistance and financial education all in one familiar place, NYCitizenship is paving the way to countless new opportunities for our immigrant communities – from better pay to homeownership. It’s exactly what our city needs as we continue to fight against income inequality and fight for vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Darren Bloch, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. “We’re grateful to our longtime partners – Citi Community Development, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Robin Hood Foundation – for supporting the expansion of this vital program to libraries citywide.”
“We at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services know that libraries are a second home to immigrants – more than 55 percent of recent immigrants use the public library at least once a week. For years, libraries nationwide have been great allies for USCIS in helping to get important immigration information to those who need it. Last year, we were proud to partner with New York libraries to establish ‘New Americans Corners’ in every library branch in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens,” said Phyllis Coven, New York District Director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. “Today’s announcement builds off that great partnership, and we congratulate the New York Library systems and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs for establishing such a valuable service to New York’s immigrants.”
Immigrant Heritage Week was established in 2004 and is a citywide celebration that honors the experiences and contributions of immigrants in New York City. Every year, New York City celebrates Immigrant Heritage Week from April 17–23. April 17 marks the day in 1907 when more immigrants entered through Ellis Island than any other date in the City's history.
To commemorate Immigrant Heritage Week, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs will host a variety of events on issues related to immigration policy and immigrant rights. For a full calendar of community events, visit

Governor Cuomo Announces New Initiative Ensuring Domestic Violence Victims are able to Obtain Health Insurance Coverage Year-Round

Department of Financial Services Creates Special Health Insurance Enrollment Period to Assist Domestic Violence Victims

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that insurers and HMOs offering comprehensive health insurance coverage through the New York State of Health individual marketplace are now required to allow victims of domestic violence, or spousal abandonment, to enroll in insurance plans at any time of the year. The New York State Department of Financial Services has created a new special enrollment period which will permit these individuals to enroll at any time outside of the standard November 1 through January 31 annual open enrollment period.

"Victims of domestic violence should not be forced to ensure additional hardships because they lack access to quality health coverage for themselves or their children," said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. "This action will help break this cycle of violence and help victims gain the independence and the assistance they need."

Acting Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo said,"DFS is taking this action to ensure that domestic violence victims, as well as victims of spousal abandonment, have the opportunity year-round – not just during the standard open enrollment period – to sign-up for necessary health insurance."

The following guidance is being provided to insurers and HMOs by the Department of Financial Services:

  • The special enrollment period will be made available for individual coverage outside the New York State of Health starting April 15, 2016 to any member of a household who is a victim of domestic violence, including unmarried and dependent victims within the household, as well as victims of spousal abandonment, including their dependents. 
  • For applications received by the 15th of the month, coverage will be effective on the first day of the following month. For applications received after the 15th of the month, coverage should be effective on the first day of the second following month.
  • Insurers and HMOs may include either an item on the application or request a separate statement from the applicant attesting to their eligibility for the special enrollment period. Insurers and HMOs should not require that the applicant have been a victim of domestic violence or spousal abandonment within a specified period of time. Insurers and HMOs may not require any proof of eligibility or apply overly burdensome requirements on applicants seeking to use the special enrollment period.

Legal Momentum President and CEO Carol Robles Roman said, "Legal Momentum applauds Governor Cuomo for taking decisive action in removing impediments to ensure that domestic violence victims and their dependents are able to obtain health insurance whenever they need it. Violence often has economic and health consequences for survivors. Maintaining health coverage is an important way to help them."

Sanctuary for Families Executive Director Judge Judy Harris Kluger said, "Governor Cuomo recognizes how vitally important it is that individuals leaving an abusive relationship know that they will be able to enroll in health insurance – at any time – for themselves, their children and dependents."

Sean Doolan of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association of NY said, "We appreciate the opportunity to work with the Governor, DFS and NYSOH on collaboratively developing a balanced approach to ensuring that victims of domestic violence are afforded seamless health care coverage."

Additional information on the special enrollment period may be obtained on the Department of Financial Services website.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

PHOTOS | 'With All My Love' Kay Habana Concert

Ms. Kay Habana in 'With All My Love' Concert. Our Lady of Pompeii Shrine Church. April 10, 2016. New York.

Photos by Lambert Parong for Kababayan Media/ CC BY

Ms. Kay Habana

Jared Martin with Kay

Our Lady of Pompeii Shrine Church
Ria Serrano, Loren San Diego, Kael, Kay and Amira Allah
Mr. Rene Ballenas & Ms. Kay Habana
Fely Quines, Manuel Caballero, Mylz Tolentino and Emilio Quines

Kay's Parents

Grace Labaguis, Kay, Fely and Emilio.

Miss Anna Javier and Maestro Bobby Ramiro

Miguel Braganza and Rianne Avendula

Joyce Andes-David (3rd from left), Kael, Arman David, Kay Habana and Reggie Ramirez

Kay Habana

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Evaluation of Mayor de Blasio's Unprecedented Investment in Middle School Afterschool Shows 98 Percent of Surveyed Parents Say Children Like the Program

Principals, teachers and staff report strong programs, engaged students, positive results from SONYC expansion in schools across city

Nearly all families say they would recommend programs to other families

NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong recently released the findings of the Year One Evaluation of SONYC (School's Out New York City), part of the City's expanded middle school afterschool initiative. The study shows the Mayor's historic $145 million first year investment in 2014 worked to triple SONYC enrollment and dramatically increase educational and recreational opportunities for New York City sixth through eighth graders. Ninety-eight percent of parents surveyed reported their sons and daughters like coming to the program, and nearly all of the families surveyed said they would recommend SONYC to other families.
"Today's report shows that kids are learning—and they like it. We're growing tomorrow's leaders, keeping kids safe and busy while parents are at work, building their confidence, and closing in on the achievement gap in communities across our city. And this is only year one," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
"The de Blasio administration has made afterschool programming a cornerstone of our approach to achieving equity and excellence in education. We have kept our commitment to offer an afterschool program seat to every middle schooler. And under the leadership of DYCD Commissioner Bill Chong, SONYC has been a resounding success. We've doubled the overall number of middle school students served just two years ago, and that's thousands more parents who can go to work or pursue their education, knowing that their children are learning, having fun and making friends in a safe environment," said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery.
"Middle school students are in a critical stage of their social and educational development and have specific expectations of their afterschool experience. These findings are testament that our quality SONYC programs offer diverse and engaging learning opportunities, provide students with safe and welcoming environments, and result in positive outcomes. I thank Mayor de Blasio and his staff for their commitment to expand SONYC programs, which offer our young people a true pathway to success," said DYCD Commissioner Bill Chong.
"Today's report confirms what I hear from families across the City – afterschool programs work and provide students with safe and enriching environments. Learning shouldn't stop when the bell rings and providing rigorous and exciting afterschool programming is essential to raising student achievement and ensuring students are ready for college and meaningful careers," said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.
The findings represent data from 2,300 hours of program observation, more than 2,000 youth surveys, nearly 1,000 family surveys and 7,000 hours of interviews from a cohort of 37 SONYC programs that participated in site visits during the first year of the two-year review conducted by the American Institute for Research (AIR), a behavioral and social science research, practice, and policy organization.
The AIR report also shows:
  • Program quality is high, and school and program staff cited program activities as a key strength.
  • Program and school staff reported improvements in youth outcomes, particularly in their social and emotional development and leadership skills.
  • Youth attended a total of 13 million hours in SONYC programming, with each participant spending, on average, 236 hours in programming during the year.
  • SONYC programs encourage all youth, including English language learners and students with disabilities.
To view highlights of the SONYC Year One Evaluation, click here.
Prior to the expansion, DYCD and the Department of Education combined served an estimated 56,369 middle schoolers in 239 schools and community centers in the 2013-14 school year. In the first year of the middle school expansion (2014-2015), the City served 111,448 young people in programs operated by both DYCD and DOE through various initiatives. The initiative with the largest expansion was SONYC, DYCD's afterschool programs in public middle schools, community centers, and other locations. Enhancements included programs being open five days per week for 36 weeks during the school year, and a higher price per participant to cover the additional hours and enable providers to hire and retain qualified staff and provide high quality programming
Middle school can be an especially challenging time for students, parents and teachers, with young people undergoing the extraordinary changes of early adolescence, and an especially valuable time when young people can experience amazing growth when provided opportunities. Afterschool programming helps develop new skills and interests; prepares students for high school, graduation, college and beyond; encourages young people to pursue their passions; keeps youth out of trouble between the hours of 3 PM and 6 PM; and reduces the achievement gap among diverse communities.
SONYC programming offers diverse opportunities to middle schoolers, including STEM robotics, 3D modeling, urban agriculture, fitness, fashion and design, podcast production, coding, animation, and filmmaking and theatre arts.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Vote PH 2016 | Overseas Voting for the May 9 National Elections in the Philippines

Overseas Election Period: April 9 to May 9, 2016 for President, 

Vice-President, 12 Senators and Party-List Representatives.

Consul Kerwin Tate
The Philippine Consulate General, New York led by Consul General Mario de Leon Jr., held the last of its series of town hall meetings as part of their voter education program. The forum on 'How to cast your ballot for the 2016 National Elections for Overseas Voters' was held last April 5, 2016. Consul Kerwin Tate made the presentation and handled the Q&A.

The Q&A

Kababayan Media through this news blog site 'Balitang New York' has put together this general guide for the public with the hope that the information provided here may be useful.

Photos by Lambert Parong for Kababayan Media/ CC BY

Deputy Consul General Kira Danganan-Azucena (4th from left) and
Consul Kerwin Tate (center) with community members after the forum.

Quick Guide | How to cast your ballot if you are a registered voter under the Philippine Consulate General, New York, with consular jurisdiction over Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

1. Verify if your name has been included in the final list approved by the Resident Election Registration Board (RERB). If you see your name on the list, it means that your application for overseas voting has been approved and allowed to vote in the 2016 National Elections.

2. A registered overseas voter can vote either by mail or by personal voting. 

Postal Voting: A Voting Packet will be mailed to each registered voter under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Consulate General, New York (PCGNY). The voting packet will come in a short brown envelope, it includes the official ballot, a pre-addressed (PCGNY) return envelope, a paper seal and instructions on how to vote. Follow the instructions and mail your completed voting packet using the pre-addressed return envelope. Overseas election period for the jurisdiction of the PCGNY will end at 5:00 AM - Eastern Standard Time on May 9, 2016.

Personal Voting: The PH Commission on Elections deputizes a body to conduct the voting and counting of votes, known as the Special Board of Election Inspectors (SBEI). In New York the deputized members of the SBEI are Consul KERWIN TATE, Consul FELIPE F. CARIÑO III and Vice Consul KHRYSTINA P. CORPUZ.

Overseas Voting starts April 9 to May 9, 2016 (thirty days) including weekends and holidays in the Philippines and the US. Voting is held at the premises of the Philippine Consulate General, New York located at 556 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10036. Telephone: (212) 764-1330.

To learn more about Overseas Voting for the May 9 National Elections, visit the PH Comelec website by clicking here. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

PHOTOS | Rachel Alejandro Live in New York City

Ms. Rachel Alejandro and Nino Alejandro US Tour 2016 in NYC by Queens Asian Fest and Promdi Kitchen + Bar with Ms. Angel Ram and Bobby 'Piano man' Ramiro. April 3, 2016. New York.

Photos by Lambert Parong for Kababayan Media/ CC BY

Ms. Rachel Alejandro

Fely and Emilio Quines

Angel Ram

Tata Kay Habana and Mayette Ocampo

Nino Alejandro

Rolan Gutierrez of Fil-Am Who's Who

Ner Martinez and Emilio Quines

Arnel Piemonte, Fely Quines, Chelle Lhuillier and Angel Ram

Nino and Rachel Alejandro
Annie, Myrna and Fely

Rise Kung and Rachel Alejandro

Melissa Alviar, Arnel, Emilio and Kay.

Myrna Gutierrez, Queens Asian Fest, Martin of Promdi, Rachel, Noni, John Doe and Rolan Gutierrez
Bobby 'Piano man' Ramiro

Rachel Alejandro, Angel Ram and Noni Alejandro