"The first bill before me is Introductory Number 215-A, sponsored by Council Members Perkins, Baez, Barron, Clarke, Comrie, Lopez, Martinez, Monserrate, Nelson, Quinn, Seabrook, Stewart, Vann, Gennaro, Addabbo, Boyland, Weprin, Gerson, Recchia, Provenzano, Rivera and Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum. Intro. 215-A will provide increased protection for senior citizens enrolled in the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption program - also known as SCRIE.
"Under the SCRIE program, rents for senior citizens are set at an affordable level, usually at one-third of the total household income. Landlords are compensated for this reduction in rent through real property tax abatements. SCRIE participants are also eligible for rent reductions resulting from a landlord's failure to provide services, but these reductions have not always been passed on to the tenants. This legislation will insure that a tenant enrolled in SCRIE will directly receive these benefits.
"When a building's services are not maintained, a tenant may seek a rent reduction order from the state. If the state finds that the landlord failed to provide required services, the rent of the apartment is reduced. Currently, when a rent reduction for a SCRIE tenant is ordered, rent is reduced in either of two ways: (1) the senior may reduce their monthly rental payment; or (2) the City may reduce the tax abatement granted to the landlord.
"Intro. 215-A requires that, when a rent reduction order is issued, the amount of the reduction must be subtracted from the senior citizen's rent, rather than subtracted from the abatement.
"This administration has strongly advocated for rent protections, particularly ones that are vital to older New Yorkers who often live on fixed incomes and need rent regulations to remain in their homes. This bill will insure that seniors in the SCRIE program receive the benefit of a temporary rent reduction until their landlord completes necessary repairs.
"I would like to thank the City Council, Department for the Aging Commissioner Edwin Mendez-Santiago and all the agency staff who worked on this bill for their leadership and commitment to this issue."