According to assistant commissioner Pierre DeJean, there are 80,000 city residents who qualify for the programs but are not taking advantage of them. In the Far Rockaway Sand Castle senior housing complex alone there are 900 eligible apartments.
“The program freezes the rent of tenants for as long as they remain eligible,” DeJean explained. “For people on a fixed income, it could be the difference between paying for medicine and food or paying their rent.”
According to city data, approximately 80 percent of the program's participants already spend more than one-third of their income on rent, while 55 percent spend more than half.
To qualify for SCRIE, you must be at least 62 years old, make $50,000 or less annually, live in a rent regulated apartment, and spend more than one third of their monthly income on rent.
For DRIE, you must be at least 18 years old, have a lease in your name, and receive some form of federal financial assistance.
In 2004, the income eligibility requirements for SCRIE jumped from $20,000 per year to $50,000. This could be why many people don't realize they qualify, said State Senator Joseph Addabbo, whose office plans to do outreach throughout the month of October.
Last week's press conference also coincided with the senior center's 20th anniversary.
“You walk in these doors, it doesn't feel like a senior center,” said Assembly Phil Goldfeder. “It feels like my daughter's school were everybody's excited to be together.”