Klein wraps up SCREI/DRIE town halls

Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and Councilman Andrew Cohen with Riverdale seniors at a SCRIE/DRIE town hall.
Photo courtesy of Senator Klein’s office

A series of town hall meetings were held to instruct local seniors and people with disabilities about housing benefits they may be eligible for.

Senator Jeff Klein recently hosted a number of information sessions in his district about the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption and Disability Rent Increase Exemption.

The programs, which freeze eligible participants’ rent, are an attempt to support the population of seniors and people with disabilities, said Klein.

“If you’re living on fixed income, it’s very hard to make ends meet,” he said.

SCRIE applies to NYC residents who are at least 62 years old, rent an apartment that is regulated by the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (i.e. rent controlled or rent stabilized apartments or hotel stabilized), pay more than one-third of the household’s total monthly income for rent, and meet the income cap.

Expanding the programs to support middle class seniors and people with disabilities is a priority, said Senator Klein.

In 2014, the SCRIE/DRIE income cap was raised to $50,000 to help seniors make ends meet.

In a related effort, last year eligibility for older adults under Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program, which allows eligible seniors aged 65 and older to supplement their out-of-pocket Medicare Part D drug plan costs, was also expanded by raising the income threshold to $75,000 for individuals, and $100,000 for married couples.

The SCRIE/DRIE town hall meetings were an attempt to make Klein’s constituents aware of the change in eligibility requirements, as well as increase overall enrollment.

The Bronx ranks second to last in terms of enrollment across New York City, according to Klein’s office, and is also home to areas with the highest number of non-participating eligible households in NYC for SCRIE, including Kingsbridge Heights/Mosholu, Riverdale/Kingsbridge, and Throggs Neck/Co-op City.

“I want to make sure as many Bronxites as possible sign up for the program,” said Klein.

The forums were a success in terms of providing information and getting people to sign up, said the senator.

One constituent, Pelham Parkway resident Denise Mangione, was glad for the town hall meeting at Bronx House in late June. She had applied for SCRIE as soon as she turned 62 several months ago.

“If I could put a freeze on my rent it would be great, I could make ends meet better,” said Mangione.

But the application was pending for months and she couldn’t figure out why.

When she received an invitation to Klein’s town hall in the mail, she decided to attend, and the senator’s office was able to get her the answers as to why her application wasn’t moving forward.

Now she’s keeping her fingers crossed that her application will be approved.

“I think the meeting was very beneficial,” said Mangione. “I appreciate what Senator Klein did to reach out to the community.”

For more info about SCRIE/DRIE eligibility, call Senator Klein’s district office at (718) 822-2049.

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at 718-260-4591. E-mail her at jwilliams@cnglocal.com.

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