New York State’s SCRIE program shelters seniors aged 62 + years old with an income of $50,000/year or less to live in their rent controlled or stabilized apartments without paying rent increases!(As seen in the Courier Life, March 9-13, 2015)
My mother-in-law Lillian celebrated her 98th birthday last month. The weather was too frigid to go out so my husband, son and my in-laws decided to celebrate her birthday in her spacious one-bed room rental apartment located on the fashionable upper west side. The building is a 12-story luxury doorman residence with a marble-floored entrance and plenty of brass railings, doorknobs, and accessories. It is quite a desirable find.
Most of my readers already know that my mother-in-law lives on her social security and receives 24-hour home care through Medicaid. How can she afford a to live in a luxury building? The answer: she participates in a little known New York State program called Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption or SCRIE.
New York State’s SCRIE program helps seniors
New York State’s SCRIE program allows tenants aged 62 + years old with an income of $50,000/year or less to live in their rent controlled or stabilized apartments without paying rent increases. Before they become eligible, they must prove that they pay at least one-third of their disposable income toward rent. Once a senior is accepted into the program, SCRIE makes up the difference between the frozen rent and the increase. No matter how much the rent increases, the tenant’s rent remains the same. If a tenant applies for SCRIE while paying $1500/month rent, her rent will remain at that rate for the rest of their residency. If the rent increases by $100/month, the tenant pays the original rent, and the state pays the increase. The same is true if the rent increases by $200/month or $300/month or $1000/month.
Imagine paying only $350/month for a one bedroom apartment in NYC
Lillian moved into her current apartment back in the 1980’s when her neighborhood was considered a little too edgy for many people. Her rent was $350/month, a bit of a stretch for a woman who sold coats in a clothing store on West 72nd Street. I remember looking out her bedroom window and seeing trash and drug paraphernalia strewn around the back courtyard. I worried about her safety.
Lillian retired when she turned 62. Knowing her income would be limited she applied and was accepted into SCRIE. At least she knew her rent was secure. Every two years when she signs a new lease, she submits a copy to the SCRIE office and continues to pay the same $350/month rent. SCRIE pays the difference between the rent increase and her original rent. Thirty-five years later she still pays the same $350/month rent she paid when she first moved in.
History of SCRIE
SCRIE was created in 1970 to protect low-income seniors from rent increases in rent controlled and rent stabilized apartments. In 1976 the income requirement was extended to eligible tenants in certain rental and cooperative apartments in buildings that are now referred to as Mitchell-Lama apartments. When the program was first introduced the eligibility income cut off was $29,000, but in July 2014 the income requirement was increased to $50,000.
How to Apply for SCRIE
To apply for the program, an applicant must fill out a SCRIE application and submit it along with required documents, which include proof of income and a copy of the prior and current lease. The form is available through the New York City Department of Finance (DOF) office, on line at the NY ACCESS website http://www1.nyc.gov/site/finance/benefits/tenants-scrie.page, or at many senior citizen centers. The completed application is then sent to the DOF where it is processed. A participant must reapply every time a new lease is signed.
DRIE is a program like SCRIE for the Disabled
New York State offers a similar program to people with disabilities called Disability Rent Increase Exemption or DRIE. DRIE was established in 2005 through an amendment to the SCRIE law. The requirements are the same as SCRIE; the applicant must have an income level of $50,000 or less and proof that he pays at least one-third of his disposable income for rent.
Not everyone can be lucky enough to pay only $350/month rent for a desirable apartment in Manhattan, but if you know of some one who might be eligible for the program, she might continue to live in the same place without rent increases going forward.
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