ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON HOUSING
ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON AGING
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
The SCRIE program provides a benefit to senior tenants who live in rent regulated housing. In New York City, seniors and their landlords currently participate in the program through an application to the Department of Finance. If approved, the rent that the senior must pay is frozen and the landlord receives the amount of any subsequent rent increase as an exemption on their city property taxes. This arrangement allows low-income seniors to remain in their homes even though they are often on fixed incomes.
In 2009, the administrative responsibility for the SCRIE program was transferred from the Department for the Aging to the Department of Finance to create administrative efficiencies.
The experience of most seniors has not been as positive as expected. These unintended consequences are allegedly the result of staff at the Department of Finance being overwhelmed by the new responsibility of SCRIE applications. This has led to applications not being processed promptly and accurately, seniors losing the benefit even though they remain eligible, and miscommunications during the application process. The negative impacts have particularly affected seniors with cognitive impairments and seniors for whom English is not their primary language. The Department of Finance relies on the 311 system as the primary method for seniors to apply and recertify for the SCRIE program. Limited person to person interaction makes it difficult for seniors to ask questions or receive services in languages other than English. The Committees on Housing and Aging seek through this hearing to examine the impact of the change in administration of SCRIE in New York City, what response, if any, would be appropriate, and how this has affected seniors' ability to remain in their homes and communities.
Please see the reverse side for a list of subjects to which witnesses may direct their testimony, and for a description of the bills which will be discussed at the hearing.
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Oral testimony will be limited to 10 minutes' duration. In preparing the order of witnesses, the Committees will attempt to accommodate individual requests to speak at particular times in view of special circumstances. These requests should be made on the attached reply form or communicated to Committee staff as early as possible.
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What is the percent of first time applications to the SCRIE program versus the percentage of recertification applications for SCRIE benefits each year?
What has been the impact of the administrative changes on seniors? Have there been problems with the administration of the SCRIE benefit under the Department of Finance? If so, how can these problems be addressed?
Many seniors are on fixed incomes. In cases where seniors have not received their SCRIE benefit, how has this affected their ability to pay for other necessary items? How has this impacted their ability to stay in their homes?
How has the Department of Finance utilized senior groups and community-based organizations to assist with the application process and increase outreach to seniors about the benefits of the SCRIE program? What has been the result of the outreach efforts? With poverty increasing among seniors, are there plans to increase outreach to make seniors aware of the benefits of the SCRIE program?
How can the application and reapplication process be changed to make it easier for seniors and the Department of Finance to address concerns relating to language and other barriers?
What would be the benefit of changing oversight for the SCRIE program back to the Department for the Aging? Is this feasible? Why or why not?