The Real Deal New York

Enrollment for senior rent subsidy program remains low

Around 80,000 elderly New Yorkers qualify, but aren’t signing up

March 07, 2016 04:05PM


From left: Bill de Blasio and Jacques Jiha

While Mayor Bill de Blasio pushes for more senior housing through one of his zoning proposals, a rent subsidy program for elderly New Yorkers remains underutilized.

Despite an outreach campaign and a higher threshold for income, nearly 80,000 seniors who qualify are not signing up for a rental assistance program for seniors. The Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption, known as SCRIE, halts rent hikes for seniors in rent-regulated units.

Currently, there 53,804 people are enrolled in SCRIE, Jacques Jiha, commissioner for the Department of Finance, said during a City Council hearing last week, Politico reported.

In December 2014, the department released a report that showed 94,047 New Yorkers who could sign up for SCRIE and another program called Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) were not doing so.

After the report, there has been an outreach campaign and the threshold for income to qualify for the benefit went to $50,000 from $29,000. Since then 11,289 people have enrolled in the program, Politico reported.

Advocates say de Blasio needs to publicize SCRIE, which was launched in 1970, the way he did with universal pre-K.

“SCRIE is the best preservation of affordable housing program for seniors there is,” Bobbie Sackman of LiveOn NY told Politico. “Over 100,000 seniors in New York City pay more than 50 percent of their income in rent. SCRIE is significantly underutilized, even after decades of its existence, because seniors and their families do not know about it. SCRIE should be as much a household term as [universal pre-kindergarten].”

De Blasio’s Zoning for Quality and Affordability proposal seeks to spur more housing for seniors. [Politico]Dusica Sue Malesevic