Strengthen SCRIE: Underutilized Means Seniors are Overburdened

Organization Name: LiveOn NY & Enterprise Community Partners

Project Title: Strengthen SCRIE: Underutilized Means Seniors are Overburdened

Project Location: Citywide

Project Goals:
Through our “Off the Fiscal Cliff” Campaign, LiveOn NY and Enterprise Community Partners are advocating for two, complementary policy changes to the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption “SCRIE”, also known as NYC Rent Freeze. The recommendations are as follows:

• NYC must implement a robust, sustained SCRIE Outreach Campaign so that no senior who qualifies for SCRIE ends up extremely cost burdened. SCRIE is underutilized and allows for continued levels of rent burden among seniors who enroll later than initially eligible.
• NYC must rollback SCRIE and cap rent at 33% of household income to help seniors already on SCRIE, one-third of whom are paying more than 70% of their income in rent.

SCRIE is a powerful preservation tool that keeps seniors in affordable rent regulated housing. The success of this initiative will preserve rent regulated housing at affordable rent levels for thousands of NYC’s low income seniors who face extreme levels of rent burden.

Project Description:
In 2015, LiveOn NY and Enterprise Community Partners began working together to better understand SCRIE and to determine how it could be improved. This effort culminated in a report entitled “Reducing Rent Burden for Elderly New Yorkers: Improving the Senior Center Rent Increase Exemption Program”. It is this report that first outlined the policy goals that LiveOn NY and Enterprise now jointly work to advocate on. Through coalition building, we will work with policymakers to strengthen SCRIE. Currently, this initiative includes an educational campaign on the adverse effects of SCRIE underutilization due to a lack of awareness amongst seniors as well as the extreme rent burden felt by SCRIE beneficiaries.

Community Impact:
As of 2015, an estimated 121,729 seniors qualify for SCRIE, this number estimates the baseline level of impact if both policy recommendations were to go into effect. As the aging population increases, this number would continue to grow. Additionally, due to high rent, seniors are often forced to make adverse health decisions such as skipping meals, foregoing medical appointments, or neglecting necessary prescription purchases. Seniors also report feeling isolated and lonely, due to a lack of resources. Increased awareness and a rollback to a 33% cap would diminish these troublesome tradeoffs. A rent cap also puts money in the pockets of seniors that can boost local spending. Stable, affordable housing is key to seniors aging in place in their home and community. Family members will be less stressed when their loved one’s financial stability is achieved. Communities will retain their older residents.

Organization Description:
LiveOn NY is dedicated to making New York a better place to age. Founded in 1979, with a membership base of more than 100 organizations, LiveOn NY is recognized as a leader in aging. LiveOn NY’s membership serves over 300,000 older New Yorkers annually and is comprised of organizations providing an array of community based services. LiveOn NY connects resources, advocates for positive change, and builds, supports and fosters innovation. Our goal is to help all New Yorkers age with confidence, grace and vitality. Enterprise works with partners nationwide to build opportunity. We create and advocate for affordable homes in thriving communities linked to good schools, jobs, transit and health care. We lend funds, finance development and manage and build affordable housing, while shaping new strategies, solutions and policy. Over more than 30 years, Enterprise has created nearly 358,000 homes, invested $23.4 billion and touched millions of lives.

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