94K NY Renters Miss Out on Free Money

94,000 households are eligible for rent subsidies and not taking advantage of the assistance.

Last Wednesday, December 10, a mind blowing report was released by the Department of Finance, revealing that close to 100,000 households are missing out on city rent subsidies that could save them millions of dollars.

Only approximately 61,000 household, which is a mere 39 percent of the group of eligible New Yorkers, are participating in programs known as SCRIE (Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption) and DRIE (Disability Rent Increase Exemption), which provide generous subsidies.

There are an additional 94,000 households that are eligible and either don’t know about the programs or just haven’t signed up.

A leading advocate for the rights of renters, Michael McKee said, “The city does a very poor job of advertising SCRIE and DRIE.” He adds, “Sometimes, elderly people aren’t always good about paying attention. You have to recertify to stay in these programs, and sometimes people forget.”

The subsidies are some of the greatest deals in the city.

The city is willing to pay rent increases, by providing landlords tax reductions, for resident of rent-regulated housing, who are over 62-years-old and spend a third or more of their income on rent.

There is a limit on one’s income to qualify, this year it is the highest in the 44-year long history of the program, and nearly double from last year’s $29,000 cap.

Acording to the report’s findings, branding accounts for a portion of the issues with enrollment. A majority of eligible New Yorkers have no idea what the programs SCRIE or DRIE stand for, which is pushing for a name change by the city for both programs, to the more direct Rent Freeze Program.

Department of Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha said, “Enrollment numbers have remained more or less constant for the last 15 years.” He added, “There is a need for a better, targeted outreach approach to inform and enroll eligible New Yorkers.”

The issued faced by the agency are not limited to these

“A major obstacle for SCRIE or DRIE enrollment is lack of proof of income, since many seniors are not obligated to file IRS returns when they stop working,” said City Councilman Mark Levine, who represents West Harlem and the Upper West Side.

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