City Councilmember Dan Garodnick. | GAY CITY NEWS
BY DAN GARODNICK | New Yorkers can argue about almost anything. The Yankees or the Mets. Taking the local or waiting for the express train. Toasting your bagel or eating it untoasted.
But there’s one thing we can all agree upon: The rent is too damn high.
This is an especially acute issue for some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers, such as seniors and individuals with disabilities. Luckily, New York City has two programs that allow certain individuals to freeze their rents: the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and the Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE).
There’s only one problem. Actually, 77,000 problems. Estimates show there are 77,000 potentially eligible New Yorkers who have not yet signed up for SCRIE or DRIE. These individuals are leaving money on the table with each month that goes by without their rent freeze. That’s less in their pocket to pay for groceries, less for a Metrocard, less for important medications.
You may even be one of the 77,000. It’s time we change this. That’s why I’ve made October East Side Rent Freeze Month. We’ve got to get as many eligible New Yorkers as possible signed up for the rent freeze they’re entitled to.
Individuals over 62 or individuals with a disability are eligible to sign up for a rent freeze. To qualify, you must live in a rent regulated apartment, have a household income of $50,000 or less, and spend more than a third of your income on rent. Once an application is approved, it freezes rent going forward, with the city directly paying landlords any subsequent increases.
During my East Side Rent Freeze Month events, staff from my office and the Department of Finance have been on hand to answer questions and confirm exactly what paperwork you need to complete the SCRIE or DRIE application.
Our final week of events is taking place on October 26-28, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House at 331 East 70th Street.
Rent freeze can be a serious and life-changing financial lifeline. By some estimates, 55 percent of all SCRIE participants are extremely rent-burdened. It also strengthens communities. A rent freeze ensures some of our most vulnerable and longtime community members can continue to thrive in the neighborhoods they’ve called home for so many years.
If you have a friend or neighbor who may qualify for SCRIE or DRIE, please do your part and tell them about East Side Rent Freeze Month and encourage them to sign up. Trust me, they’ll thank you later.
City Councilmember Dan Garodnick represents Council District 4 on Manhattan’s East Side.