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Assemblyman
Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Assembly District 71
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Chair, Ways and Means Committee
…and this month in Albany
June 19, 2014

Assemblyman Farrell Reports to Community Board 10

New Farrell Housing Bill Would Protect NYC Tenants
As we wind down our 2014 Legislative Session, I am pleased to report that a new tenants' rights bill I recently introduced will be on the Assembly floor this week. I believe it will be a help to many tenants who are preparing to sign leases with a new landlord. There have been concerns that my bill might create problems for tenants. In fact, my bill will require landlords to disclose important information to tenants before a lease is signed.

I have discussed my bill with the Legal Aid Society, which does not disapprove of the bill, but we will be changing certain words to guarantee that this legislation, which is being sponsored in the Senate by Senator Bill Perkins, would not do damage to tenants and does not create new loopholes for bad landlords to exploit.

It Is All Too Easy for Tenants to be Victimized by Bad Landlords
Bad landlords often skirt the rules, fudging the numbers or outright lying on the forms they submit to the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) seeking higher rent. My bill is based on a problem that brought a Northern Manhattan resident into court to fight her landlord and DHCR. DHCR ruled against the tenant, but she appealed their ruling in the courts and won, which will give her the opportunity for a new hearing with DHCR.

Farrell Bill Would Close Landlord Loophole
My bill changes the statute of limitations in cases of housing fraud, giving tenants more time to bring court actions against bad landlords. It codifies two recent court decisions, both of which were fraud cases that went beyond the current four-year statute of limitations that applies to these cases.

Without my bill becoming law, landlords may easily fabricate reasons for a rent increase without documentation that justifies the increase. When my bill becomes law, landlords would be required to turn over four years of records to tenants when they sign their first lease and may force landlords to be more careful with how they raise their rents. This would also allow tenants to quickly and easily check if their landlord has falsified any claims made to DHCR.

Rosenthal/Farrell Bill Expands Tenants' Rights in Fraud Cases
I have also co-sponsored a similar bill with my colleague Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal which pertains specifically to fraud. This bill eliminates the statute of limitations to file a complaint in cases of rent fraud, which should also help tenants who bring their landlords to court for fraudulent rent increases or other abuses. This bill, A748, as does my other bill, amends the Rent Stabilization Law. Unlike my other bill, which is more complex, this legislation pertains specifically to fraud and gives tenants more than the current four-year period to file a complaint with DHCR claiming that the landlord fraudulently increased their rent. This bill recently passed the Assembly but has not yet passed the Senate.

Farrell Bill Requires Landlords to Disclose Tenants Right to Court Costs
Another housing bill, which I recently introduced, codifies tenants' rights to recover legal fees when they are dragged into court on false pretenses by a bad landlord, and the tenant has won the case. There have been cases where bad landlords have used the courthouse to harass tenants, and in some cases tenants give up and move out of their homes because they can no longer afford to pay a lawyer. It has been the law in New York for many years that landlords must cover tenants' legal fees in some cases, but many tenants do not know this and never fully pursue their legal rights.

Many standard leases contain a clause that states that tenants must pay the landlord's legal fees if a disagreement ends up in court. Under my bill, all leases would have to include a matching clause which states that tenants are entitled to reimbursement of legal fees by the landlord if the dispute is settled in the tenant's favor by the courts.

Diverse Group of Elected Officials Agree, NYC Should Ban Helicopter Tourism
A diverse group of nearly 20 elected officials from across New York City met with Mayor de Blasio's staff at City Hall on June 6 to lay out our and our constituents' belief that "helicopter tourism" should be banned by the City.

Present at the meeting, in addition to myself and the Mayor's staff, were Congresswoman Nydia M. Velazquez, who represents Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan and Queens; Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who represents parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn; State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, who represents Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn; Assembly Member Felix Ortiz of Brooklyn; Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal of Manhattan; Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer; and City Council Member Mark Levine of Northern Manhattan, plus staff members representing other elected officials who could not attend the meeting.

These officials, who agree that the City should no longer allow tourists helicopter service flights that disrupt the quality of life in our neighborhoods and present a danger to the neighborhoods they are flying over, met with the Mayor's staff to plead our case. In recent years, since the practice began, many residents of Northern Manhattan have voiced their opposition to the noise created by helicopters hovering over their homes.

Over Northern Manhattan, helicopter flights use the Hudson River as a highway, then cut across Washington Heights to view Yankee Stadium from the air. One helicopter in particular tends to hover in place for extended periods of time, apparently acting as a traffic cop for other flights.

As the meeting ended, Mayor de Blasio's staff promised a follow-up meeting after the complaints passed along by the group of officials were checked and verified. From our point of view, the issue has been well-studied and analyzed, and the City would be justified in ending the flights.

Working to End the Mosquito Problem in Riverbank Treatment Plant
As you may remember from last fall, we have been having problems in Riverbank State Park with malfunctioning drainage systems creating pools of standing water that are a breeding ground for mosquitoes. While the insects themselves are a nuisance, they are known to carry West Nile Virus and other diseases, which can be serious. Since these problems arose, I have worked with L. Ann Rocker of Friends of Riverbank, New York State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey, and City officials to figure out what is wrong and fix it. As you may know, the State and City share responsibility for this problem, because Riverbank is a State park and the sewage treatment plant below it is maintained by the City. I recently wrote both agencies to inquire about their progress, and to be sure that the pools of stagnant water are being treated with insecticide to be sure mosquitoes are not breeding in them. I will share their responses when I receive them.

Farrell Working With DOT to Improve Problem Intersection on 155th Street
As you may know, we have been having trouble with a problem intersection on 155th Street (where it meets Edgecombe Avenue and Harlem River Drive) which can be dangerous for pedestrians to navigate, and where major problems with traffic often occur, especially on Friday evenings or during home games at Yankee Stadium. It is vitally important that this area be made safe for children and adult pedestrians. I am working with the Department of Transportation to devise a solution to these issues. As you may know, DOT plans to close the left-turn lanes at 155th Street westbound where it meets St. Nicholas Place, which I do not agree with.

DOT Traffic Plan a Good Start, but Changes are Needed
While I agree with the bulk of the Department of Transportation's traffic report regarding the problem intersection on West 155th Street, I oppose closing left and right turns by automobiles in some locations, which DOT intends to do. My ongoing discussions with DOT seem to have yielded an agreement that changing the timing of the lights in some areas might create excessive traffic backups, especially east- and westbound traffic on 155th Street on evenings when the Yankees are playing a home game. However, the timing of the traffic signals on the three north-south streets in this area could be changed without causing problems while giving pedestrians more time to cross. Harlem River Drive has a light at Dyckman Street and none for 50 blocks until the intersection with 155th Street. Edgecombe Avenue has no traffic lights between 155th and 163rd Streets. Northbound traffic on St. Nicholas Place does not encounter a traffic signal between 150th and 155th Streets. Those blocks can hold many cars without causing backups.

Route Cars to Edgecombe, St. Nicholas Place and Harlem River Drive
While most of DOT's suggestions are good, some of the DOT's suggestions would increase traffic near 155th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, where there is a school. We do not need to add additional traffic in that area, which may affect the children and other pedestrians. Changing the timing of the traffic signals on the north-south thoroughfares could allow us to accomplish what we need to accomplish while also protecting pedestrians walking though this area. My plan could also work without the unwanted side effect of backing up traffic during Yankee games, on Friday evenings or at other times. I know your Transportation Committee may be meeting during the summer to discuss this issue. I will be asking for a meeting with the Chairs of your Transportation Committees as I continue to work with DOT. With Community Board meetings about to end for the summer break, I recommend that you check my Web site at assembly.state.ny.us for the latest news.

Yours truly,
Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.



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June 12, 2014
Farrell Attends Event at Schomburg Center, Honors Dickens

Assemblyman Farrell took part in a recent event at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, during which a group of City, State and Federal elected officials joined community leaders including members of the Schomburg family to honor City Council Member Inez Dickens for her work to improve the quality of life in Northern Manhattan.


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Assemblyman Farrell catches up with City Council Member Mark Levine and former City Council Member Robert Jackson during the Schomburg Center event.

Among those who attended the event was Congressman John Robert Lewis of Georgia, a lifelong crusader for human rights and civil liberties, who was a prominent figure in the Civil Rights movement.

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Assemblyman Farrell and Congressman John Robert Lewis.


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June 8, 2014
Farrell Joins Effort to Honor Those Who Have Died from HIV/AIDS

On Sunday, June 8 2014 Assemblyman Farrell joined attendees of St. Matthews' Baptist Church and other members of the community to dedicate a New Life Community Garden in honor of those who have died from HIV/AIDS.


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Assemblyman Farrell and Lisa D. Jenkins, Senior Pastor of St. Matthew's Church.

The garden, located at 43 Rev. Dr. John J. Sass Place between 151st and 152nd Streets, is intended to be a place of peace and refuge for people who are in search of solace and comfort.

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Assemblyman Farrell poses with members of St. Matthew's Baptist Church's Guardian Angels HIV/AIDS Ministry.


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June 2014
Mayor de Blasio, Manhattan Elected Officials Cheer Affordable Housing Project

Assemblyman Farrell recently joined Mayor de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, City Council member Ydanis Rodriguez, former City Council Member Robert Jackson, Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer and other officials to mark the near-completion of a new affordable housing project at 155th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.


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Assemblyman Farrell speaks about the need for more affordable housing during a media event.

The mixed-use project, called the Sugar Hill Development, brings together a preschool, on-site museum, and 124 units of affordable housing. The project began in 2008 with support from Assemblyman Farrell and other officials, and was completed by Broadway Housing Communities using a mix of public and private funds.

"The opening of the Sugar Hill Development is hugely important for this community," Assemblyman Farrell said. "Broadway Housing Communities has created a unique space for residents and neighbors alike. I am proud to be here today."

According to Mayor de Blasio, the Sugar Hill development is an example of rejuvenation, renewal, community involvement and community leadership. Both the affordable housing component and the early education component tie in with his administration's plans to improve the quality of life in New York City, the mayor remarked.



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June 6, 2014
Diverse Group of Elected Officials Agree, NYC Should Ban Helicopter Tourism

A diverse group of nearly 20 elected officials from across New York City met with Mayor de Blasio's staff at City Hall today to lay out their and their constituents' belief that "helicopter tourism" should be banned by the City.


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Assemblyman Farrell and a group of NYC representatives have asked City Hall to end the "helicopter tourism" that causes noise complaints and dangerous conditions in neighborhoods throughout the City.

Present at the meeting, in addition to Assemblyman Farrell and the Mayor's staff, were Congresswoman Nydia M. Velazquez, who represents Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan and Queens; Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who represents parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn; State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, who represents Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn; Assembly Member Felix Ortiz of Brooklyn; Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal of Manhattan; Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer; and City Council Member Mark Levine of Northern Manhattan, plus staff members representing other elected officials who could not attend the meeting.

These officials, who agree that the City should no longer allow tourists helicopter service flights that disrupt the quality of life in their neighborhoods, met with the Mayor's staff to plead their case. In recent years, since the practice began, many residents of Northern Manhattan have voiced their opposition to the noise created by hovering helicopters over their homes.

Over Northern Manhattan, helicopter flights use the Hudson River as a highway, then cut across Washington Heights to view Yankee Stadium from the air. One helicopter in particular tends to hover in place for extended periods of time, apparently acting as a traffic cop for other flights.

At the close of the meeting, Mayor de Blasio's staff promised a follow-up meeting after the complaints passed along by the group of officials were checked and verified.



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…and this month in Albany
June 4, 2014

Assemblyman Farrell Reports to Community Board 10

New Farrell Housing Bill Would Protect Millions of NYC Tenants

As we wind down the final days of our 2014 Legislative Session, I am pleased to report that a new tenants-rights bill I recently introduced has been passed through the Housing Committee, which is chaired by my colleague Keith Wright, and is headed to the Assembly floor for a vote in the coming days. I believe it will be a significant help to many wronged tenants.

Bill Would Require Landlords to Document Improvements, Rent Increases

My bill, A9908, would significantly tighten the reporting rules landlords must abide by to justify rent increases for capital improvements, and force landlords to recognize that tenants have rights. As of now a landlord seeking a rent increase that is related to capital improvements made to their property must submit documentation to the Department of Housing and Community Renewal that shows why the landlord is entitled to higher rent. It is not a matter of dispute that good landlords make investments in their rental property, and deserve a fair return on their investment.

All Too Easy for Tenants to be Victimized by Bad Landlords

However, bad landlords often skirt the rules, fudging the numbers or outright lying on the forms they submit to DHCR seeking higher rent. My bill is based on a problem that brought a Northern Manhattan resident into court to fight their landlord and DHCR. The landlord made small changes to the apartment after a previous tenant moved out and used that small investment to more than triple the rent. The case, which was decided by a 3-2 vote of the Appellate Division in late 2013, found that the landlord had proven that the improvements to the apartment were substantial enough to justify the significantly higher rent, which is now over $2,000 per month. But this level of proof is very low and unfairly benefits the landlord. This must be changed.

Farrell Bill Would Close Landlord Loophole

Two important words come up again and again in the court's decision: "fraud," and "misrepresentation." Fraud is difficult to prove, because a tenant seeking justice would have to prove that the landlord knowingly lied to DHCR in their paperwork seeking a rent increase. Misrepresentation is easier to prove. If the landlord claims to have invested tens of thousands of dollars in renovations, but the tenant can prove the landlord merely bought a few cheap appliances and other fixtures that are widely available and whose prices are well known, it would be much easier for tenants to be successful in court as they fight back against a rent increase.

Without my bill becoming law, landlords may easily fabricate reasons for a rent increase without documentation that justifies the increase. Once my bill becomes law, landlords would be required to turn over four years of records to tenants at the beginning of their occupancy of the apartment and may force the landlord to be more careful with how they raise their rents. This would allow tenants to quickly and easily prove the landlord has falsified their claims to DHCR.

Farrell Working With DOT to Improve Problem Intersection on 155th Street

As you may know, we have been having trouble with a problem intersection on 155th Street (where it meets Edgecombe Avenue and Harlem River Drive) which can be dangerous for pedestrians to navigate, and where major problems with traffic often occur, especially on Friday evenings or during home games at Yankee Stadium. It is vitally important that this area be made safe for children and adult pedestrians.

I have been working with the Department of Transportation to devise a solution to these issues. As you may know, DOT plans to close the left-turn lanes at 155th Street westbound where it meets St. Nicholas Place, which I do not agree with. With Community Board meetings about to end for the summer break, I recommend that you check my Web site at assembly.state.ny.us for the latest news.

DOT Traffic Plan a Good Start, but Changes are Needed

While I agree with the bulk of the Department of Transportation's traffic report regarding the problem intersection on West 155th Street, I oppose closing left and right turns by automobiles in some locations, which DOT intends to do.

My ongoing discussions with DOT seem to have yielded an agreement that changing the timing of the lights in some areas might create excessive traffic backups, especially east- and westbound traffic on 155th Street on evenings when the Yankees are playing a home game.

However, the timing of the traffic signals on the three north-south streets in this area could be changed without causing problems. Harlem River Drive has a traffic signal at Dyckman Street and none for 50 blocks until the intersection with 155th Street. Edgecombe Avenue has no traffic lights between 155th and 163rd Streets. Northbound traffic on St. Nicholas Place does not encounter a traffic signal between 150th and 155th Streets. Those blocks can hold many cars without causing traffic backups.

Route Cars to Edgecombe, St. Nicholas Place and Harlem River Drive

While most of DOT's suggestions are good, some of the DOT's suggestions would increase traffic near 155th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, where there is a school. We do not need to add additional traffic in that area, which may affect the children.

Changing the timing of the traffic signals on the north-south thoroughfares could allow us to accomplish what we need to accomplish while also protecting pedestrians walking through this area. My plan could also work without the unwanted side effect of backing up traffic during Yankee games, on Friday evenings or at other times.

I know your Transportation Committee will be meeting to discuss this issue in the near future. I plan to work with your Committee as I continue to work with DOT.



Yours truly,
Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.



…and this month in Albany
May 15, 2014

Assemblyman Farrell Reports to Community Board 9

As you may have heard, Mayor de Blasio's administration is in the process of making changes to the leadership of the Police Department under Commissioner Bratton, This is being done in order to make the best use of their resources and place commanders in precincts where their talents can be put to the greatest use in order to protect and preserve the safety of our communities.

Over the years I have been happy to develop excellent professional and personal relationships with the commanding officers of the New York Police Department's Precincts in my District as we worked together to improve the quality of life in Northern Manhattan. During the last few weeks, I had the opportunity to meet with the new commanders in order to introduce myself, provide an overview of the past methods that have been used to control noise in the parks and other problems, and to make myself and my staff available in order to help them.

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I recently met with Deputy Inspector Michael Baker, pictured at left, who had recently replaced Deputy Inspector Ruel Stephenson as commanding officer of the 30th Precinct. We also had a pleasant and productive conversation about problems in the community including motorcycle racing in the streets and noise in our public parks, and how I could be of assistance. I look forward to working with them to improve the quality of life in the District, and wish their predecessors great success in their future endeavors.

To the right, you can see a photo that was taken during a recent meeting at the 28th Precinct stationhouse with Deputy Inspector Olufunmilo F. Obe. She replaces Deputy Inspector Kevin Williams, who was reassigned to the NYPD's counterterrorism unit. We had an engaging and productive conversation about motorcycle racing in the streets and other ongoing problems in the community.

My staff and I are also preparing for the warm-weather problems of noise, littering and traffic in Riverfront Park, which usually begin as soon as the weather turns warm, as it has been.

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Farrell Meets With NYPD Housing Bureau Commander


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I recently met with Deputy Inspector Luis A. Despaigne, commanding officer of the NYPD's Housing Bureau Police Service Area 6, which is in charge of policing New York City Housing Authority properties (also known as the projects). We had a lengthy and informative discussion of his agency's responsibilities and the challenges they face, and talked about how my staff and I may be of assistance in pursuit of a better quality of life.




Farrell Meets with Mitchell-Llama Residents' Coalition

On Saturday, May 3, I attended a meeting with members of the Mitchell-Llama residents' Coalition to discuss 2014 legislative priorities and bills that are being carried by my Assembly colleagues Keith Wright, who chairs our Housing Committee, and Linda Rosenthal. These bills, which are currently being considered by the Legislature, would bring all former Section 8 buildings into the rent stabilization system, protect these buildings from future privatization, provide low-interest loans for repairs and improvements, and exclude Social Security income from SCRIE applicants declared income.

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Big Changes Coming to SCRIE Program

As we briefly discussed during our last correspondence, the budget for State Fiscal Year 2014-2015 includes major positive changes for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) program which we in the Legislature believe can make life a bit easier for seniors who rent their homes. Previously, SCRIE was available to seniors aged 62 and older who live in rent-regulated or Mitchell-Llama housing and who earned not more than $29,000 per year. As we are all aware, even for a single senior who has lived in the same rent-regulated apartment for many years, $29,000 or less is hardly enough to live on in New York City.

Recognizing this, the Legislature made several significant changes to SCRIE this year. There is $1.2 million set aside in the budget to raise the qualifying income limit from $29,000 to $50,000. This change, which will help thousands of vulnerable seniors, is one of the largest expansions of SCRIE in many years and I was happy to fight for its' passage in Albany. For assistance, seniors who live in Mitchell-Llama housing should call (212) 863-8494. Seniors who live in rent-regulated housing should call 311 and ask for the city's Department of Finance.



Yours truly,
Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.



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…and this month in Albany
May 7, 2014

Assemblyman Farrell Reports to Community Board 10

As you may have heard, Mayor de Blasio's administration is in the process of making changes to the leadership of the Police Department under Commissioner Bratton, This is being done in order to make the best use of their resources and place commanders in precincts where their talents can be put to the greatest use in order to protect and preserve the safety of our communities.

photo

Over the years I have been happy to develop excellent professional and personal relationships with the commanding officers of the New York Police Department's Precincts in my District as we worked together to improve the quality of life in Northern Manhattan. During the last few weeks, I had the opportunity to meet with the new commanders in order to introduce myself, provide an overview of the past methods that have been used to control noise in the parks and other problems, and to make myself and my staff available in order to help them.

To the above right, you can see a photo that was taken during a recent meeting at the 28th Precinct stationhouse with Deputy Inspector Olufunmilo F. Obe. She replaces Deputy Inspector Kevin Williams, who was reassigned to the NYPD's counterterrorism unit. We had an engaging and productive conversation about motorcycle racing in the streets and other ongoing problems in the community.

photo

I also recently met with Deputy Inspector Michael A. Davidson, pictured at left, who had recently replaced Inspector Rodney Harrison as commanding officer of the 32nd Precinct. We also had a pleasant and productive conversation about problems in the community including motorcycle racing in the streets and noise in our public parks, and how I could be of assistance. I look forward to working with them to improve the quality of life in the District, and wish their predecessors great success in their future endeavors.



Farrell Meets With NYPD Housing Bureau Commander

photo

I recently met with Deputy Inspector Luis A. Despaigne, commanding officer of the NYPD's Housing Bureau Police Service Area 6, which is in charge of policing New York City Housing Authority properties (also known as the projects). We had a lengthy and informative discussion of his agency's responsibilities and the challenges they face, and talked about how my staff and I may be of assistance in pursuit of a better quality of life.

Farrell Meets with Mitchell-Llama Residents' Coalition

On Saturday, May 3, I attended a meeting with members of the Mitchell-Llama residents' Coalition to discuss 2014 legislative priorities and bills that are being carried by my Assembly colleagues Keith Wright, who chairs our Housing Committee, and Linda Rosenthal. These bills, which are currently being considered by the Legislature, would bring all former Section 8 buildings into the rent stabilization system, protect these buildings from future privatization, provide low-interest loans for repairs and improvements, and exclude Social Security income from SCRIE applicants declared income.

photo

Big Changes Coming to SCRIE Program

As we briefly discussed during our last correspondence, the budget for State Fiscal Year 2014-2015 includes major positive changes for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) program which we in the Legislature believe can make life a bit easier for seniors who rent their homes. Previously, SCRIE was available to seniors aged 62 and older who live in rent-regulated or Mitchell-Llama housing and who earned not more than $29,000 per year. As we are all aware, even for a single senior who has lived in the same rent-regulated apartment for many years, $29,000 or less is hardly enough to live on in New York City.

Recognizing this, the Legislature made several significant changes to SCRIE this year. There is $1.2 million set aside in the budget to raise the qualifying income limit from $29,000 to $50,000. This change, which will help thousands of vulnerable seniors, is one of the largest expansions of SCRIE in many years and I was happy to fight for its' passage in Albany. For assistance, seniors who live in Mitchell-Llama housing should call (212) 863-8494. Seniors who live in rent-regulated housing should call 311 and ask for the city's Department of Finance.



Yours truly,
Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.



Video Clips:

March 25, 2014
Assemblyman Farrell rises to speak out against legislation which would allow New York to award its electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. A.4422-A




Photo Slide Show:



Contact Information:

District Office
2541-55 Adam Clayton
Powell Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10039
212-234-1430
District Office Directions
Albany Office
LOB 923
Albany, NY 12248
518-455-5491
Albany Office Directions