Last week New York City announced plans to expand its legislative program that helps senior tenants freeze their rent and make living on their own more affordable. Mayor Bill de Blasio has cited a lack of affordable housing as a major problem, and the elderly who live on a fixed income are particularly disadvantaged when it comes to rent increases. In the past, elderly renters have not participated due to language barriers, lack of computer access, and challenges travelling to get the proper paperwork. However, new funding and a public awareness campaign are helping more seniors sign up for the program. The campaign is also aimed at the adult children of elderly renters in hopes that they will help their parents sign up for the program.
What is SCRIE?
SCRIE, or the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption, is a program that began in New York City in 1970. The program allows renters in New York City to freeze their rent at its current level if certain qualifiers apply. In exchange for the frozen rent, landlords of these apartments are given property tax rebates. State legislation is now contributing millions of dollars in financing over the next two years to expand the initiative and provide more information to seniors.
Do I Qualify for the Program?
In order to qualify for the SCRIE program a renter must be age 62 or older, live in a rent-regulated apartment, and spend at least one-third of the household income in rent. Currently, the maximum annual income allowed to participate in the program is $29,000 but as of July 1st this cap will be raised to $50,000 annually.
If you have already attempted to apply for SCRIE but were denied, officials are urging seniors to apply again after July 1st when the updated regulations go into effect. Letters are also being mailed to all who have been denied in the last five years with the new information and are encouraged to try again. It is estimated that tens of thousands of new elderly renters will qualify for rent freezing once the updated regulations go into effect.
Where Can I Find More Information?
The city is trying hard to expand the ways in which seniors can get access to information and apply to SCRIE. The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development has information about the initiative on their website. The New York City Department of Finance also has a website that gives information about the SCRIE program as well as provides the necessary forms needed to apply for assistance. Information can be obtained over the phone by calling 311 and asking for the forms on SCRIE, and a walk-in clinic is also open in Manhattan.
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