By Sabina Mollot
Stuyvesant Town is among the top ten neighborhoods with the most people who are eligible for a rent freeze intended for the disabled or seniors that haven’t enrolled in the programs, according to the Department of Finance.
The stats were part of a report that was released by the DOF on The Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE). The report also said that as many as 155,366 households in the city may qualify for Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) or DRIE and out of that number, 61,319 actually receive the benefit while 94,047 additional residents are not enrolled but could be eligible. The utilization rate for SCRIE is 43 percent while it’s 27 percent for DRIE. Possible reasons for not getting enrolled, the department believes, include language barriers, insufficient public communication and negative sentiment about government assistance.
Along with Stuyvesant Town, which was counted alongside Turtle Bay, other neighborhoods believed to be the most under-enrolled for SCRIE/DRIE include the Upper East Side and Upper West Side, Coney Island, Kingsbridge Heights/Moshulu, Riverdale/Kingsbridge, Throggs Neck/Co-op City, Kew Gardens/Woodhaven, Flushing/Whitestone and Highbridge/S. Concourse.
“While there have always been outreach efforts for SCRIE and DRIE, it has been clear that it is time for a new, enhanced plan, which targets specific neighborhoods and ethnic communities,” the Department of Finance wrote in its report. This new approach would rely on partnerships with elected officials, advocacy groups and community-based organizations.
To get more disabled people enrolled at the program, which would allow participants to have their rents frozen at their current levels, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) and Lenox Hill Neighborhood House are hosting a clinic on Tuesday, November 13. (Stuyvesant Town management plans to have a clinic for residents some time in the early winter.)
At the Lenox Hill clinic, trained volunteers and attorneys will meet with pre-screened clients to guide them through the DRIE application process and answer questions. Both English and Spanish-speaking volunteers will be available. The clinic will take place from 1:30-4 p.m. at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 331 East 70th Street. Interested individuals should send an email to DRIE@lenoxhill.org or call (212) 218-0503, option 0 to determine eligibility for DRIE and schedule an appointment. More information about eligibility and what to bring to the clinic is available online at lenoxhill.org/legaladvocacy.