Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday signed a bill that will help struggling seniors throughout New York City: The new law raises the maximum income level of seniors eligible for Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) Program benefits– that is, seniors living in rent-regulated housing– from $29,000 to $50,000 a year, making it the most dramatic increase ever instituted by the city. Governor Andrew Cuomo first signed legislation authorizing municipalities to increase maximum income levels for qualifying seniors on March 31. Not long after, City Council Members Margaret Chin, Julissa Ferreras and Jumaane Williams proposed Intro. 243-A, a bill that halts rent hikes in regulated units for residents aged 62 with an annual income of up to $50,000 a year. “No senior should have to choose between paying their rent and buying food, paying a bill, or perhaps paying for a prescription drug,” said Councilmember Williams. “Safe, affordable shelter is a human right for all, and once this legislation is enacted, more seniors will gain the peace of mind that they truly deserve.” The SCRIE program extends a property tax break to landlords to make up for the reduced rent. But it had fallen behind the pace of the city’s rising living costs in recent years. The new law will impact more than 6,000 new households through expanded benefit, and would be further supported by additional funding from Albany. “Every New Yorker deserves to live in stable, affordable housing, no matter how much they earn—and our senior citizens are no exception,” said de Blasio. “I applaud the City Council, led by , for introducing this essential legislation—and I want to thank Governor Cuomo for signing legislation to authorize this increase and allow us to expand these benefits to more seniors today.” The new law take effect on July 1, 2014, and will remain in effect for those applying to SCRIE for two years.
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