Big expansion of senior rent freeze in the works

Bill hiking income cap to $50K a year seen passing; would add 24,000 residents to program

Margaret Chin
Margaret Chin

A bill that would increase the number of New York City seniors eligible for a rent freeze has secured approval in Albany and is expected to do the same with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Introduced by City Council member Margaret Chin, the legislation would extend the parameters of the long-running Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program, commonly known as SCRIE, which halts rent hikes for residents aged 62 or older in regulated units. Under the current rules, seniors can qualify for the program if their annual income is less than $29,000 and they pay a third of their income or more for rent. The new law would raise the earnings cap to $50,000.

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“The goal is to protect seniors by making sure they are able to stay in their current apartments, and more importantly, in the neighborhoods they helped build,” Chin told Crain’s.

The program is administered by the city Department of Finance and extends a property tax break to landlords to make up for the reduced rent. But the program has fallen behind the pace of the city’s rising living costs in recent years, with the state lifting the income threshold only twice over the last ten years, Chin’s office told Crain’s. The measure would be the most dramatic increase ever instituted, and would be further supported by additional funding from Albany. [Crain’s]Julie Strickland