By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) program is currently only available to residents who live in rent regulated housing, but a resolution in the City Council is urging the State Legislature to change that.
The council wrote a resolution in September that encourages the legislature to pass, and the governor to sign, a bill that would allow residents living in non-stabilized buildings where landlords have agreed to abide by Rent Guidelines Board increases to be eligible for the program.
The Community Board 6 housing committee met last Monday to discuss the Council’s resolution and write one of their own in support of such legislation. According to a representative for Councilmember Margaret Chin, who sponsored the resolution, there is currently no proposed legislation in Albany to make the change to the SCRIE program but both CB6 and the City Council are hoping to put pressure on the legislature to do so.
A representative for Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, who has supported expanding the SCRIE program in previous legislation, said that he has been working on expanding the program, but no specifics on the legislation was available.
Under the proposed change, seniors living in buildings where landlords have entered into voluntary agreements to base future increases on the Rent Guidelines Board orders would be eligible for SCRIE. Eligibility for SCRIE includes an age and income requirement. Residents also must pay more than one third of their total monthly income for rent and live in a rent-stabilized apartment to participate in the program. Tenants who would otherwise be eligible but are living in units that are not rent regulated are not eligible for SCRIE.
There is currently a specific subset of buildings throughout the city where landlords have already entered into such agreements with their tenants to increase rents based on RGB orders, Chin’s rep told Town & Village.
“I was surprised to learn that there were landlords who would voluntarily choose to participate (in implementing only RGB increases),” housing committee member and Stuyvesant Town Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg said.
The SCRIE program was recently expanded to allow eligibility to more residents by increasing the income requirements from $29,000 to $50,000.
Residents age 62 and older are eligible for SCRIE if their income meets those requirements and they pay 30 percent or more of their income on rent each month. However, the program is currently only available to residents who meet those requirements and live in rent regulated housing.