Millman Legislation to Improve Access to Rent Assistance Programs

May 9, 2012
Brooklyn, NY Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Aging Committee Chair Joan announced the approval of a legislative package aimed at improving and increasing access to the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Disabled Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) Programs.

The legislation emerged from Assembly hearings co-chaired by Millman late last year to examine how changes in the administration of the SCRIE program have created unintended consequences for seniors in New York City.

Silver noted that the legislation would also provide translation assistance to those with limited English proficiency and additional help for individuals with limitations such as deafness, blindness, a speech impediment, or a cognitive impairment (A.9213/Brook-Krasny).

"For low income seniors and individuals with disabilities living on fixed incomes, the SCRIE and DRIE programs offer an extremely important benefit that protects them from being priced out of their neighborhoods," said Silver. "Through the approval of this legislative package we will make necessary improvements to the application process to maintain the programs' effectiveness and ensure eligible seniors and individuals with disabilities can afford to remain in their homes and in their communities."

"Transferring the SCRIE program to the New York City Department of Finance has created a situation where applicants are currently waiting more than six months to receive any word on their applications," said Millman. "Flaws in the new application process have prevented eligible seniors and individuals with disabilities from receiving this important benefit and as a result have caused undue financial hardships to many seniors. This legislative package includes provisions that will make sure applications are processed in a timely fashion."

Included in the legislative package is a measure (A.9205) sponsored by Assemblywoman Millman, which would require municipalities that have the SCRIE and DRIE programs to conduct outreach in the community to ensure individuals who may be eligible are aware that they can apply for the benefit. The bill improves the application process and makes it more user-friendly by requiring municipalities to implement procedures to ensure the application is reviewed in a timely manner and by requiring a mechanism to be in place that allows applicants to check the status of their applications.

Other important reforms included in the legislative package would direct municipalities that administer the SCRIE and DRIE programs to:

  • implement a plan to make SCRIE and DRIE application forms more readily available and authorize certain entities to assist in the completion of applications in community settings (A.9204/Lopez); and
  • create a system to ensure that DRIE participants are seamlessly transitioned to the SCRIE program once they are eligible for both SCRIE and DRIE (A.9223-A/ Simotas).