Printable Verison for this Press Release note: acrobat format
Reducing Rent Burden for Elderly New Yorkers: Improving the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program note: acrobat format
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New Report Finds NYS Program Freezing Rent Increases for Seniors Is Underutilized, Many Rent Burdened Even with Rent Freeze
Enterprise Community Partners and LiveOn NY reportproposes lower rent capfor SCRIE, improved outreach to increase enrollment among low-income seniors
New York, NY – May 17, 2016 – Eligible New York City seniors are underutilizing a city rent freeze program and those who do sign up remain rent burdened, according to a new report released today by Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. (Enterprise) and LiveOn NY.
The report, Reducing Rent Burden for Elderly New Yorkers: Improving the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program, analyzedthe current enrollment and need of the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program (SCRIE), which freezes rent for New Yorkers over the age of 62 living in rent regulated housing and paying more than one-third of their income on rent.
The report found that while 32 percent of New York City’s single seniors are severely rent burdened, or paying over half of their income on rent, only 43 percent of those eligible for SCRIE (approximately 52,000 households out of 121,729) actually sign up. Of those on SCRIE, 85 percent are rent burdened, or paying more than the one third of their income on housing, and 55 percent are severely rent burdened.
“Seniors in NYC deserve to live in safe housing that they can afford. Unfortunately, far too many of our older neighbors spend a majority of their income on rent, leaving them with few resources to afford other necessities including food and health care,” said Judi Kende, Vice President and New York Market Leader for Enterprise. “SCRIE is a valuable tool that can help reduce and prevent rent burden for seniors, but it needs to be updated and better utilized in order to help our growing senior population remain stably housed and age in place.”
IgalJellinek, Executive Director, LiveOn NY, states, “LiveOn NY is proud to release this SCRIE analysis report with Enterprise Community Partners. SCRIE is the best preservation program in New York City for older New Yorkers to remain in their homes at an affordable rent and is the perfect fit with Mayor de Blasio's affordable housing initiative. Only 43% of those eligible seniors are on SCRIE. It is astounding that the majority of SCRIE beneficiaries are spending over 50% and even 70% of their income in rent. A fixed income is a fixed income. This report recommends that all older adults on SCRIE spend no more than one-third of their income in rent. It also calls for a sustained public awareness campaign to educate older adults and their family members about SCRIE. We look forward to working with the administration and other government partners to make sure all older New Yorkers can access SCRIE and pay an affordable rent.”
Additional findings from the report include:
- Severely rent burdened seniors on SCRIE have a median income of about $11,000 per year, with a median residual income leftover after rent of $183/month to purchase food, utilities, basic necessities, and health care.
- Rent burdened seniors on SCRIE have a median income of about $20,000 per year, leaving them ineligible for benefits like food stamps.
- Unaffordable housing conditions can lead to unhealthy outcomes, such as skipping meals or doctor visits, not filling prescriptions, and even elder abuse.
“AARP New York commends Enterprise and LiveOn NY for undertaking a comprehensive examination of the SCRIE program and proposing sensible recommendations that would go a long way to help aging New Yorkers afford their rent,” said Christopher R. Widelo, Associate State Director, AARP New York. More than half of adults eligible for SCRIE are not enrolled in the program. AARP fully supports the groups’ recommendations that New York City increase SCRIE outreach and cap rents for SCRIE enrollees at one third of their income.”
Calling for a two-pronged approach to expanding SCRIE’s impact, the report analyzes the cost of strengthening the program by capping rents at one-third or one-half of household income for beneficiaries and generating more public awareness of SCRIE to increase enrollment rates.
Monsignor Alfred LoPinto, Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queensand affiliate agencies, added, “Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens is the largest provider of affordable senior housing in New York City, and provides critical services to thousands of seniors on fixed incomes each day. For many of these older adults, the meal provided at our Senior Centers and delivered to the homebound is the only meal they eat that day. Many seniors are forced to choose between food and rent, which is why programs such as SCRIE are so critical for our seniors. We need to improve the SCRIE program to ensure it best serves all vulnerable seniors who call New York City home.”
By capping the rent of SCRIE participants at one-third of their income, the percentage of rent burdened and severely rent burdened seniors would come down to zero at an estimated annual cost of $324 million at current enrollment levels. In contrast, capping rent at 50 percent of incomes would reduce the percentage of severely rent burdened seniors on SCRIE to zero, but maintain the percentage of rent burdened seniors at 85 percent at an estimated annual cost of $225 million.
“Without rental support from SCRIE, the thousands of seniors that contend with housing insecurity because of their rent burden cannot be sufficiently addressed. HANAC applauds the tremendous work of Enterprise Community Partners to change the conversation about this program and tap into the potential of this underutilized resource to protect the long-term affordability of our senior occupied rental units. On a personal note, thanks to SCRIE, my father can continue to afford the apartment in Queens he raised me and my family—givinghim great piece of mind that his retirement pension can cover the cost of his rent in perpetuity,” notedJohn Napolitano, Director of Community Development & Planning, HANAC, Inc.
Additionally, the report attributes low enrollment in SCRIE to lack of awareness and callsfor a more robust outreach campaign targeting eligible tenants as well as landlords, similar to the grassroots campaign employed for recruiting and enrolling families in universal pre-k.
“The City’s SCRIE program is one of the best tools for preserving affordable housing for our City's seniors and enables them to satisfy rent requirements to live independently in the safety and comfort of their own homes and communities. The report issued by Enterprise highlights staggering data about the rent burden of current enrollees. Older adults living on fixed incomes are often still paying over 50% of their incomes on rent. I commend the City for their efforts to ensure that all eligible seniors can take advantage of this program, and we look forward to continuing to work with government, as well as Enterprise Community Partners, Live On NY and other senior service providers to make SCRIE more accessible and valuable,” said Stuart C. Kaplan, Chief Executive Officer, Selfhelp Community Services.
About Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
Enterprise works with partners nationwide to build opportunity. We create and advocate for affordable homes in thriving communities linked to jobs, good schools, health care and transportation. 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 340,000 homes, invested $18.6 billion and touched millions of lives. Join us at www.EnterpriseCommunity.com or www.EnterpriseCommunity.org.
About LiveOn NY
LiveOn NY is a non-profit organization recognized as a leader in making New York State a better place to age. Founded in 1979, it is recognized as a leader in aging that connects resources, advocates for positive change, and builds, supports and fosters innovation. With over 100 member organizations providing community based services through more than 600 programs, LiveOn NY's members range from individual community-based centers to large multi-service, citywide organizations. Our goal is to help all New Yorkers age with confidence, grace and vitality. www.liveon-ny.org