Legislative package would bolster SCRIE and DRIE programs
WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 25, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and the Chair of the Committee on Aging Steven Cymbrowitz announced the passage of several measures to strengthen the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) programs that preserve affordable housing for senior citizens and persons with disabilities.
“These programs have helped many New York seniors and persons with disabilities remain in their homes,” said Speaker Heastie. “By strengthening SCRIE and DRIE, educating tenants and landlords, and facilitating the application and renewal processes, these bills will protect seniors and persons with disabilities, giving them peace of mind that they will not be displaced from their homes and communities.”
“For seniors and persons with disabilities, who so often live on fixed incomes, rising housing costs can quickly become overwhelming,” said Cymbrowitz. “For over 66,000 households, the SCRIE and DRIE programs help offset these rising costs. This package helps seniors and persons with disabilities deal with rising financial stresses that would otherwise pose a threat to their independence and their ability to stay in their own homes.”
The package of bills includes a measure that would allow eligible surviving members of a household to apply for a transfer of the deceased head of household’s SCRIE or DRIE benefit. Current New York City policy allows only 60 days for transfer of SCRIE or DRIE benefits to an eligible surviving household member, a change from previous practice. This bill would codify the transfer period as six months from the head of the household’s death, or 90 days from the date of notice from the New York City Department of Finance – whichever is longer – giving grieving families more time to transfer benefits. Notice from the Department would also include instructions for benefit transfer to an eligible surviving household member and the necessary forms (A.7247-A, Simotas).
The legislative package also includes measures that would:
- require the appropriate rent control or administrative agency to send a notice of required renewal to each head of household who currently receives an exemption under the SCRIE program 30 days prior to the application renewal date (A.1087, Dinowitz);
- provide notification, at least once annually, to rent-regulated tenants regarding the SCRIE program and DRIE program , by requiring a landlord to provide information prepared by the administrative agency (A.2124-A, Rosenthal);
- make certain tax abatement forms more accessible to seniors and authorize certain entities to assist in the completion of tax abatement forms (A.5320, Cymbrowitz);
- require municipalities that offer SCRIE and DRIE to translate necessary documents into the six most common non-English languages spoken in the municipality, as well as provide interpretive services upon request, and offer assistive services upon request or demonstrated need due to partial or total deafness, blindness, speech impediment, or cognitive impairment (A.4179, Brook-Krasny); and
- allow a SCRIE or DRIE participant to get back to their previous frozen rent if they reapply after a non-recurring item of income makes them temporarily ineligible for SCRIE or DRIE for a year (A.8228, Cymbrowitz).
In addition, the legislation includes a measure that would prevent seniors and persons with disabilities from being dropped from SCRIE or DRIE due to recent changes in the administration of the program by the New York City Department of Finance. It would grandfather participants into the program as of January 1, 2015 at their current frozen rent, as well as individuals entering into the program on or before July 1, 2015, for as long as they are in the program. New applicants would remain subject to the 1/3 rent-to-income ratio requirement. The bill also creates a bridge for individuals whose rent increase exemption expired on or after December 31, 2013, and whose income made them ineligible to renew the benefit, but who were eligible under the increased income limit that took effect on July 1, 2014. This bridge would allow these individuals to regain their previous frozen rent amount as if they had not left SCRIE or DRIE, rather than the higher rent that was set under the new income limit (A.7914-A, Cymbrowitz).