NYC Program Helps Seniors Freeze Their Rent, But 'Tens of Thousands' Don’t Know About It - NBC New York

NYC Program Helps Seniors Freeze Their Rent, But 'Tens of Thousands' Don’t Know About It

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    Tens of thousands of New Yorkers are able to stop their rent from rising, but they aren't. There's a program that could give them a rent-freeze. Erica Byfield reports.

    (Published Friday, July 14, 2017)

    A New York program is helping senior citizens qualify for rent-controlled, rent-stabilized or rent-regulated apartments if they earn less than a certain salary per year — but thousands of people who qualify don’t know about it.

    For those over the age of 62 who make less than $50,000 per year, the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) Program freezes rent at a third of their income and relieves them from future rent increases.

    The city pays for the difference in rent by giving landlords credits for their property tax bills.

    Residents like Lawrence Schacht, who has lived in a spacious Upper West Side apartment since 1975, wouldn’t be able to afford his rent without SCRIE.

    “After 62 years I don’t have a desire to go anywhere else,” Schacht said. “(SCRIE is) keeping me here. I want to die in my bed. I’m not dying in a nursing home bed,” Schacht said.

    Money has been tight for Schacht after residing there for 22 years. He thought he had to move until a friend told him about SCRIE.

    “If it wasn’t for SCRIE, I’m not sure what would happen,” Schacht said.

    Other Upper West Side senior residents share his sentiments.

    “It’s made me breathe a little freer again,” Jerane DiCostanzo said.

    “I think as you get older you want all the security you can get,” Roberta Pliner said.

    New York City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal’s office has been trying to raise awareness of SCRIE and locate more seniors to apply. So far, they have signed up about 1,400 people.

    “Reimbursement is not the issue. Money from the city isn’t the issue,” Rosenthal said. “The issue is tens of thousands of people qualify for the program but don’t know about it.”

    A similar rent freeze program, DRIE, is targeted toward people with disabilities. Both programs require residents to reapply each year to ensure they don’t earn more than $50,000 per year.

    To apply to the SCRIE program, fill out a form at NYC.gov.

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