20,000 MORE SENIORS AND NEW YORKERS WITH DISABILITIES SECURE RENT FREEZE THROUGH EXPANDED SCRIE/DRIE PROGRAM.Mayor Bill de Blasio, Department of Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha and Housing, Preservation & Development Commissioner Vicki Been today announced that the city has enrolled 20,000 seniors and people with disabilities in the NYC Rent Freeze Program since expanding access in June, 2014. The program, which includes the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) Program and the Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) Program, helps those eligible stay in affordable housing by freezing their rent.
The City is also launching new efforts to inform tenants about the Rent Guidelines Board’s freeze on one-year rent-stabilized leases, and two-percent increase on two-year leases—both of which took effect this October 1st. Approximately 1.6 million New Yorkers live in rent stabilized apartments that have leases coming up for renewal during the term affected by these guidelines, and the board ruling means that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers now have more security and a better shot at making ends meet.
“Keeping New Yorkers in their homes has been a top priority of this administration since day one and our Rent Freeze Program is designed to do just that,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “A person should not be forced to leave the place they’ve called home because they’ve been priced out or are unable to work due to a disability. We have said time and again that we will protect our most vulnerable neighbors and keep fighting to make our city more fair.”
“As legislators and as citizens, we have an implicit responsibility to care for our aging generations,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “When the City Council expanded the eligibility threshold for SCRIE and DRIE in 2014, it was to ensure that residents in need would be receiving the resources necessary to remain in the city. I am proud to see the results of our efforts today, as thousands of senior New Yorkers find relief from rising rent costs, and I thank the administration, Council Committee on Aging Chair Margaret Chin, Committee on Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland and Committee on Mental Health Chair Andrew Cohen for their essential work on this issue.”
Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Chair of the Committee on Finance, said “The New York City Rent Freeze Program is a vital resource for seniors, and I am proud to work with the Department of Finance to ensure that eligible households are taking advantage of it. Keeping New Yorkers in their homes is a priority for this Council. I look forward to continuing our work to support seniors and their families.”
“AARP-NY is committed to an age friendly New York, and that includes making sure people can stay in their homes as they age and their incomes become fixed. We applaud the Mayor for expanding the SCRIE/DRIE programs and will continue to work with the city to promote the rent freeze so that everyone who is eligible receives it. We will continue to protect SCRIE/DRIE so that future generations can afford to keep calling New York City home as they age,” said Chris Widelo, Associate State Director at AARP-NY.
In July, 2014, with support from the de Blasio Administration, the New York State Legislature increased the income ceiling for rent freeze programs from $29,000 to $50,000, to help ensure that vulnerable individuals remain in their homes. Since then, the city has enrolled over 20,000 people. In an effort to reach the remaining 77,000 potentially eligible individuals and assist with yearly re-enrollment, the Department of Finance, the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit and the Public Engagement Unit will work in coordination to host “Day of Action” events that involve door knocking and handing out pamphlets in targeted neighborhoods, and will hold subsequent enrollment events. HPD will continue its outreach efforts to Mitchell-Lama developments. The city has identified the following top five under enrolled and potentially eligible neighborhoods and will be focusing its efforts accordingly:
· Stuyvesant Town/Turtle Bay
· Coney Island/Brighton Beach
· Kingsbridge/Mosholu Heights
· Upper West Side
· Upper East Side
According to the New York City Department of City Planning, the population of senior citizens in New York City will increase by 40 percent to more than 1.4 million people between now and 2040. The escalating costs of rent and growing income inequality cause many of the poorest New Yorkers to pay a greater share of their income on housing, which means they have less money for other important needs. As a result, it has become more critical than ever to increase enrollment in SCRIE and DRIE programs.
These benefits provide tax credits to landlords that effectively freeze rent for low-income New Yorkers living in rent-regulated apartments. Both benefits require a total household income under $50,000 and that more than one-third of one’s monthly income be spent on rent. To be eligible for SCRIE you must be 62 years or older and live in a rent-regulated or Mitchell-Lama apartment; DRIE requires that you are 18 years or older, live in rent-regulated, Mitchell-Lama, Limited Dividend, HDFC, or Section 213 cooperative and receive SSI, SSDI, VA Disability Compensation, VA Compensation, or Disability-related Medicaid.
“We are working very hard to make sure we connect with people in their communities,” said Department of Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha. “Our outreach team has partnered with elected officials, community boards, and community-based organizations to not only raise awareness about SCRIE and DRIE, but to address the applicants’ concerns and help them with the application process.”
“The City is working on all fronts to help combat the high cost of housing for New Yorkers with disabilities and our fast growing senior population,” said HPD Commissioner Vicki Been. “Since increasing the income limits on SCRIE in 2014, and through expanded outreach efforts, HPD has seen a 36 percent growth in the number of seniors living in Mitchell-Lama housing and other subsidized developments who today participate in the program. We will continue to push to ensure all eligible seniors and residents with disabilities get the rent relief they need as we work to build a more affordable, equitable city.”
“A critical piece of leading a happy, healthy and productive life is the security of having a roof over your head,” said Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities Commissioner Victor Calise. “Too many people with disabilities still face barriers to employment that can adversely impact financial stability. The result should not be losing your home.”
“Seniors and our neighbors with disabilities could save thousands on future rent increases by enrolling in the NYC Rent Freeze program” said Assembly Member David Weprin. “As the Chair of the Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities, I applaud Mayor Bill de Blasio, Department of Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha and Housing, Preservation & Development Commissioner Vicki Been for their efforts to increase enrollment in these beneficial programs.”
“As Chair of the Assembly’s Aging Committee, I’ve fought successfully for legislation to help as many seniors as possible qualify for SCRIE and to make sure they know the importance of applying for this vitally important program,” said Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz. “I commend Mayor de Blasio for conducting outreach in Brighton Beach and other communities across our city where so many people can benefit from SCRIE and DRIE. Keeping residents independent and in their own homes is a top priority.”
“We need affordable housing in order to maintain a diverse and vibrant community. Our neighbors — many of whom have lived in their homes for several years — would not be able to remain without relief from rising market-driven prices. Expanding access to the SCRIE/DRIE program has thankfully ensured housing security for 17,000 more seniors and New Yorkers with disabilities, and it was the right thing to do. As for the nearly 1.5 million New Yorkers living in rent-stabilized apartments, the Rent Guideline Board’s decision is a relief. Maintaining rent increases at either zero-percent or two-percent will go a long way to protect the hard-earned dollars of our working families,” said Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell.
“One of the most important things we as a City can do to address the crisis of affordability is to help keep New Yorkers in their homes,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin, Chair of the Committee on Aging. “The story behind the thousands of seniors and New Yorkers with disabilities helped by the expansion of the Rent Free Program is one of a resident with increased financial security and a fighting chance to make ends meet. I look forward to working with Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Jiha and Commissioner Been to spread the word about the Rent Freeze Program, as well as the Rent Guidelines Board’s decision to end years of landlord-friendly rent increases.”
Council Member Andrew Cohen, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Disability Services, said “As our city is becoming notoriously less and less affordable to live in, it is critical that those of us in public service do what we can to protect our most vulnerable neighbors from being priced out of their homes. In my capacity as Chair of the City Council’s Committee that oversees disability services, I see all too often how unaffordable housing weighs heavily on people who are unable to work because of a disability. I applaud the Mayor and the Administration in the success they have had already in securing 17,000 rent freezes for seniors and those with disabilities. I am also encouraged by the strides they’re making to get the word out and ensure that everyone who is eligible can find crucial assistance by taking advantage of the Rent Freeze Program.”
“The high cost of living in New York City, coupled with the City’s housing crisis leaves many New Yorkers in a vulnerable position when it comes to housing affordability. For those who are disabled or are living on a fixed income, this situation can be doubly hard. The rent freeze is movement in the right direction in protecting New York renters, and making the City an affordable place to live for all,” said Council Member Jumaane Williams, Chair of Housing and Buildings Committee.
“The New York City Rent Freeze Program has been an unprecedented success, keeping over 17,000 seniors and disabled New Yorkers in their homes, despite their fixed incomes and spiraling housing costs,” said Council Member Mark Levine. “We must continue building on that success by ensuring that every eligible senior and disabled New Yorker takes advantage of the program. I thank Mayor de Blasio for joining me today in Manhattan Valley to make this case in person.”
“Many people suffer needlessly in silence and don’t apply for the NYC Rent Freeze Program. As the President of the Lefrak City Tenants Association, working with the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit and the Department of Finance, we successfully enrolled many seniors in this important program. I congratulate the City on this important milestone and look forward to more education, outreach, and bold action to keep NYC residents in their homes,” said Malikah K. Shabazz, President, Lefrak City Tenants Association.
“I applaud Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Commissioners Jacques Jiha and Vicki Been for their bold move in freezing the rents of seniors and people with disabilities. As all of us, including South Asians, who live in New York City know, finding affordable housing in this city is a great challenge and in some cases nearly impossible. The elderly and the disabled have an even greater task in finding affordable housing than the rest of us. These fine leaders have shown compassion and wisdom by allowing those with challenges to at least have the peace of mind of having a safe, sound and secure roof over their heads. We hope that the rest of the nation follows the lead of these wise and kind leaders by making affordable housing available to those who need it the most,” said Mazeda A. Uddin, President, South Asian Fund For Education, Scholarship& Training (SAFEST).
“As a Muslim women’s organization, we are committed to supporting policies that exemplify the Islamic call for charity and compassion. Thanks to this initiative by Mayor de Blasio and his administration to provide this safety net for some of the most vulnerable in our society,” said Aisha Al Adawiya, Founder, Women in Islam Inc.