Photo Courtesy of Comptroller Stringer’s Office
“We need to help the New Yorkers who built up our communities and ensure they can afford to stay here, with access to affordable housing that will allow them to age in place and thrive in their golden years,” Comptroller Stringer said.
By Forum Staff
New legislation recently introduced in the State Senate and Assembly looks to raise awareness of the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption and Disabled Rent Increase Exemption programs that assist seniors and New Yorkers with disabilities that are living on limited incomes in making rent payments, according to City Comptroller Scott Stringer, State Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan).
The legislation would require that seniors and tenants with disabilities be given formal notice of potential eligibility for the program at the same time as they receive routine communications from landlords or government agencies regarding such issues as an application for a rent adjustment due to a major capital improvement, a rent increase, or notice of a new lease or renewal of a lease. The programs enable income-eligible tenants to have their rents frozen at one-third of their incomes, or the rent paid on the lease before they applied, whichever is greater, the three elected officials noted. Both SCRIE and DRIE are under-enrolled, with less than half of all potential beneficiaries registered in the program. The legislation introduced last week would help bolster enrollment in the programs and ensure more who qualify for assistance actually receive it, Stringer, Krueger, and Rosenthal said.
The legislation requires routine communication from landlords or government agencies such as an annual certification required by Section 31 of the Private Housing Finance Law, a lease rider, a lease containing an escalator clause, a maximum base rent adjustment or heating fuel cost adjustment, or an annual or otherwise periodic 2.2 percent rent increase for buildings receiving benefits pursuant to Section 421a of the Real Property Tax Law, to include formal notices about potential eligibility for SCRIE or DRIE.
According to the officials, to qualify for the SCRIE program, individuals must be 62 years of age or older, earn $50,000 or less annually, pay more than a third of their monthly income in rent, and reside in an apartment that is hotel-stabilized, Mitchell-Lama, rent-controlled, or rent-stabilized. New Yorkers with disabilities can qualify for the DRIE program if they are not able-bodied and are 62 years of age or younger. Based on City Department of Finance data, in Fiscal Year 2016, 59,524 persons were enrolled in SCRIE and 10,743 in DRIE, compared to the population of an estimated 121,729 potentially eligible SCRIE recipients and 33,637 potential recipients eligible for DRIE. A notification expansion of the scale of the proposed legislation could increase SCRIE enrollment from its current 49 percent participation rate to approximately 70 percent, benefiting 26,000 seniors, Stringer, Krueger, and Rosenthal noted.
“We need to help the New Yorkers who built up our communities and ensure they can afford to stay here, with access to affordable housing that will allow them to age in place and thrive in their golden years,” the comptroller added. “That’s why we must tackle our city’s affordability crisis head-on by providing direct support to New Yorkers with disabilities and our city’s seniors—those who are struggling the most to make their monthly rental payments. Increasing enrollment in the SCRIE and DRIE programs is a much-needed subsidy that must be extended to serve every New Yorker that needs it.”