Originally Posted on September 10, 2014

Today, Council Member Margaret Chin, chair of the Council’s Committee on Aging, introduced a resolution calling on the State Legislature to further expand the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) program, which freezes the rent of low- and moderate-income seniors to prevent them from being forced out of their homes by rising rents.

Today’s resolution represents the latest step in a series of efforts by Council Member Chin to expand the SCRIE program and help thousands more seniors age in place safely and securely.

Currently, residents are eligible for SCRIE if they are at least 62 years old, have an annual household income of $50,000 or less, pay more than one-third of their monthly income in rent, and live in a rent-controlled or rent-stabilized apartment (where rent is regulated by the State’s Division of Housing and Community Renewal).

Today’s resolution, (Res No. 406), calls on the State to create and pass legislation that would expand SCRIE eligibility to also include all residential units where rent may be subject to increases set by the NYC Rent Guidelines Board, as long as their residents also meet the previously stated requirements.

This would be an extremely important expansion for many low- and moderate-income seniors across the city who desperately need a rent freeze to be able to stay in their homes, but who are currently prevented from entering the SCRIE program because they live in a non-market rate apartment that does not fall under typical DHCR rent regulation.

Examples of large residential complexes that would gain SCRIE eligibility under such an expansion include Gateway Plaza (in Battery Park City) and Independence North Plaza (in Tribeca). Both complexes include many units for low- and moderate-income residents, but those rent protections are governed by landlord agreements rather than DCHR, although they are still subject to increases set by the NYC Rent Guidelines Board.

“This has already been a great year for SCRIE, but we need to go further in expanding this program that is so vital to keeping some of our most financially vulnerable seniors in their homes,” said Council Member Chin. “We simply can’t leave seniors out of this program just because they’re made ineligible by a technicality. We can’t let anyone fall through the cracks. That’s why I’m calling on the State to take this next step in bringing SCRIE benefits to thousands more seniors in need.”

Notably, the SCRIE program last underwent a major expansion on July 1, when the maximum annual income limit was raised from $29,000 to $50,000. Council Member Chin was the prime sponsor of the legislation that raised that maximum income limit, after the State provided the funding for the expansion.

Also as part of that expansion effort, Council Member Chin introduced a resolution earlier this year that called on the State to pass legislation — already introduced — that would link future increases in the SCRIE maximum income limit to annual increases in the Consumer Price Index. That resolution was adopted by the Council in May.