UPDATE: Following this story’s publication in the Thursday, May 29 issue of Town & Village, the SCRIE legislation was signed by the mayor.
By Sabina Mollot
Legislation recently enacted that would significantly expand seniors’ eligibility for SCRIE has now been incorporated by the City Council into the budget, and is expected to go into effect on July 1. Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, who introduced the proposal, said the mayor has indicated his support of it and is expected to sign onto it today.
The plan, which was first enacted in the state two months ago, would increase the maximum income a senior can have in order to qualify for the rent assistance program from $29,000 to $50,000. SCRIE (Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption) limits rents for people over 62 in rent-regulated housing who pay more than a third of their incomes in rent. Any rent hikes after leases are signed get paid to the landlord through a tax abatement, not by the tenants. The expansion is expected to make 22,000 additional seniors eligible for the program, Kavanagh said.
The bill was actually first introduced in 2007, Kavanagh’s first spring in the Assembly, and finally enacted this year.
“All parties cared about getting it done,” he said.
What has been adopted by the City Council on May 14 is a change that will have the state paying the cost of any newly eligible participants with incomes between $29,000 and $50,000.
Currently, it’s the city that pays the full cost of SCRIE, and, noted Kavanagh, “the state doesn’t mandate that the city participate” in the program.
This change in policy would be up for renewal by the state in 2016. Meanwhile, Kavanagh said he’s trying to get the word out to seniors that they should apply for the program before July 1.