Chin calls for more SCRIE reformMay 1, 2014 • By The Villager
BY SAM SPOKONY | Following the state Legislature’s recent plan to include thousands more low-income seniors in a city-administered rent-freeze program, a group of city councilmembers are calling for passage of another state bill to provide further housing security by tying future expansions of the program to regional cost-of-living increases.
The Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption, or SCRIE, program freezes housing costs for rent-regulated residents older than age 62 who already pay more than one-third of their income for rent.
The current maximum annual income for SCRIE eligibility is $29,000, though the state budget deal, approved March 31, would raise that income cap to $50,000, pending City Council approval. Consideration of the new state provision has been underway since April 10, when Margaret Chin, who chairs the City Council’s Committee on Aging, introduced a bill that, if passed, would make the increase official.
Meanwhile, the state is still considering a bill that would eliminate the need for future legislative action to increase SCRIE income limits.
That bill — first introduced in January 2013 by Assemblymember Joan Millman and state Senator Bill Perkins — would require the state’s top housing agency to increase the income limits at each year’s start, to reflect any annual increase in the regional Consumer Price Index that covers New York and northern New Jersey.
The C.P.I. — released monthly by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics — considers prices for things like food, clothing and shelter and transportation fares.
Proponents of the Millman-Perkins bill have long claimed that tying SCRIE increases to the C.P.I. would ensure that thousands more city seniors — especially those in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods — would not be displaced from their homes by rising rents.
Now, Chin is once again trying to help push that SCRIE reform forward.
A new Council resolution, introduced jointly on April 29 by Chin and Councilmembers Karen Koslowitz and Julissa Ferreras, would call on the Legislature to pass the Millman-Perkins bill.
“Our seniors have the right to age in place without fear of being priced out of their lifelong homes and neighborhoods,” Chin said. “As New York City’s costs of living continue to rise, SCRIE serves as an essential safety net for seniors whose housing would otherwise be in jeopardy.
“By quickly enacting legislation linking SCRIE to regional C.P.I., the state can guarantee that more seniors can afford to remain in their homes.”
New York and northern New Jersey’s C.P.I. increased 1.3 percent from March 2013 to March 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.