SCRIE/DRIE tenants could face reductions or elimination of benefits

Pol calls for moratorium on notices to recipients

Council Member Helen Rosenthal  (pictured at an anti-Airbnb rally earlier this year) is calling on the city to issue a moratorium on notices to SCRIE/DRIE tenants, warning them they could lose their benefits.

Council Member Helen Rosenthal at an anti-Airbnb rally earlier this year

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, thousands of tenants enrolled in SCRIE/DRIE rent increase subsidy programs learned that their benefits may end up getting reduced or eliminated altogether. The notification came by way of letters from the Department of Finance to around 5,700 people.

The programs subsidize rent increases that are faced by seniors and disabled people, respectively, who are making under $50,000 and whose rent takes up a third of their incomes.

The benefits however could expire when they attempt to renew them, according to Upper West Side City Council Member Helen Rosenthal who said last week she was approached by numerous concerned tenants who didn’t know what the letters they’d received meant.

Those letters have since been blasted by Rosenthal as being full of “technical jargon” with little detail, and she and a few other Council members have called on the Department of Finance to rescind them and not send any more until January, 2016. A moratorium, she explained, would give tenants time to plan for any changes.

Additionally, “We’re trying to understand what it means as well,” said Rosenthal of herself and her Council colleagues.

When she asked the Department of Finance why they were sent, she said she was told that previously there hadn’t been a mechanism to track whether or not recipients’ incomes were in fact one third of their rent, and now there is.

With many people enrolled in both programs living on fixed incomes, Rosenthal called the potential hikes, which she said on average would be $86, significant.

Continue reading

Ravitch wants senior housing built at Brookdale site

Waterside Tenants Association president Janet Handal and Waterside owner Richard Ravitch at a Tuesday meeting (Photo by  Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Waterside Tenants Association president Janet Handal and Waterside owner Richard Ravitch at a Tuesday meeting (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Waterside’s owner and developer Richard Ravitch revealed on Tuesday that he would like to see the bookend parcel of the proposed sanitation garage on East 25th Street become housing for seniors.

Ravitch discussed the issue at a meeting held by the Waterside Tenants Association, saying that some kind of affordable housing option would be the most compatible use of the Brookdale site for the community.

“There’s no reason that the interests of the landlord should be different from those of the people at Waterside,” he said.

Ravitch, who’s an octogenarian himself, said that he has been talking with nonprofit organizations to come up with a plan for some kind of development that would offer both housing and services for seniors, although nothing is solidified at the moment. He emphasized that what he would like to prevent is a tall commercial building on what is now the CUNY Brookdale site, and would prefer the addition of services for tenants at Waterside.

“Having services that are easily accessible for the elderly is an important part of what we would like for the community,” he said. “Some tenants have lived here since the beginning, which is why I feel so strongly about it.”

He added that another one of his concerns, even more specific to Waterside Plaza residents, is the fate of the footbridge over the FDR Drive that connects the property to East 25th Street. He said that there is a possibility that the property is put to competitive bidding and if that happens, the possibility of making the bridge accessible seems even more uncertain.

Continue reading

ST ‘angel’ funds neighbor’s film

A scene from “But Not For Me,” produced by Stuyvesant Town resident Jason Stefaniak

A scene from “But Not For Me,” produced by Stuyvesant Town resident Jason Stefaniak

By Sabina Mollot

It was in October, 2013, when Jason Stefaniak, an NYU graduate and Stuyvesant Town resident made an appeal, through an article in this newspaper, to get neighbors interested in a musical film he was producing, or rather hoped to produce after raising the funds via Kickstarter.

The campaign for the film, titled “But Not for Me,” which was about the millennial experience of making the rent in New York while also pursuing happiness, wound up raising an impressive $30,000. However, since that amount was far short of Stefaniak and the film director Ryan Carmichael’s goal of $100,000, under Kickstarter’s policy, this meant they ended up with none of the cash.

Not long after the Kickstarter deadline ended, however, Stefaniak got an email from a neighbor, which, after skimming it, he saw mentioned that its author wanted to make a contribution. Since he was busy at the moment, he figured he’d get back to her later to let her know the deadline had passed.

Then, later, Stefaniak took a closer look at the email and what she was offering. The woman, who said she’d read about the project in Town & Village, “wanted to help us cross the finish line,” he said.

Continue reading