Photo Courtesy of Edwin Torres/Mayoral Photography Office
Mayor de Blasio and Assembly Housing Chairman Steve Cymbrowitz met with senior citizens in Brooklyn last week to discuss the proposed Mansion Tax.
By Forum Staff
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn), chairman of the Assembly Housing Committee recently announced that a bill has been introduced establishing the “Elder Rental Assistance Program;” and that language will be put into the Assembly’s one house budget. ERAP will be funded by a proposed Mansion Tax, de Blasio and Cymbrowitz said.
Created jointly by the Assembly and the Mayor’s Office, ERAP will serve more than 25,000 seniors with monthly rental assistance of up to $1,300.
“Seniors across our great city are being hit hard by our affordability crisis and, for tens of thousands of older New Yorkers, this program will be the difference between just getting by and having a little left over every month and living a full life,” de Blasio said. “I thank Assembly Speaker Heastie, Assembly Member Cymbrowitz, and the Assembly Democratic Conference – and urge Albany to sign on for our seniors.”
De Blasio unveiled ERAP in February as part of his 2017 State of the City address. According to the administration, revenues under the mayor’s Mansion Tax proposal would be lock-boxed specifically for senior affordable housing. The tax would institute a 2.5-percent marginal tax for incremental price over $2 million. According to recent sales data, the policy would affect the top 4,500 residential real estate transactions in the upcoming year and would generate approximately $336 million in Fiscal Year 2018. Those funds would be devoted to ERAP for 25,000 New Yorkers, 62 years and older who earn less than $50,000 per year.
“In New York City, there are hundreds of thousands of fixed-income seniors who cannot afford to pay their rent and still buy medication, food and other necessities, and many of them simply do not have the luxury of waiting years for an affordable apartment to become available,” Cymbrowitz said. “For a population desperately in need of safe and affordable housing options, the Elder Rental Assistance Program – an initiative created jointly by the Assembly and the Mayor’s Office – is an innovative response that will restore hope to 25,000 struggling seniors, giving them the ability to remain in their homes and communities and age in place with the dignity that they so deserve. I’m looking forward to introducing the legislation to make this program a reality.”
The rental assistance would ensure a senior living on a Social Security check of $1,350 per month would spend no more than $450 per month on rent—helping them stay in their home and age with dignity, according to the administration and Albany.
“There is no issue more on the minds of New Yorkers than the need for more affordable housing, with our seniors being at risk of having to choose between food or rent, being evicted or even becoming homeless,” said Department for the Aging Commissioner Donna Corrado. “The need and vulnerability are real. With 20 percent of our seniors living below the poverty level and half of them paying more than 30 percent of their income toward housing, this funding comes at a critical time as we look to develop new opportunities for affordable housing.”