YONKERS, NY — February 4, 2015 — The City of Yonkers is poised to become one of the first municipalities outside of New York City to utilize state legislation to raise the maximum income limits from twenty-nine thousand dollars ($29,000) to fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) for the Senior Citizen and Disabled Rent Increase Exemptions (SCRIE and DRIE). The legislation passed unanimously at the Council Meeting held on January 29, 2015, allowing eligible residents who are seniors and/or disabled freedom from increases in rent. To qualify for the subsidy, senior and/or disabled residents must live in Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974 (ETPA) housing, use more than one third of their income on their rent and have an annual income of less than $50,000. Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano is expected to sign the legislation after a public hearing at 4:30pm on February 18, 2015.
Councilman Christopher Johnson who introduced the local legislation pointed out “the subsidy is targeted to those who need it the most, those paying more than one third of their income to rent. While a $20 per month increase may not seem like an enormous amount of money, it could mean the difference between using the money for rent and healthier food choices or necessary medications for someone on a fixed income that would not be able to afford it. ”
Council President and Budget Committee Chair Liam McLaughlin stated “the legislation unanimously approved by the City Council does not impact the current City Budget since abatements will not start until the fiscal year starting July 1, 2015. While it ultimately will have a small cost to the City it could have a huge impact on the seniors and Disabled citizens whose lives will be improved.
Council Majority Leader John Larkin stated “I am happy to have supported, along with all council members, the increase in income from $29,000 to $50,000 which will enable eligible senior citizens to live a life of dignity, free from worry that they will be priced out of their apartments by increases in rent.”
Council Minority Leader Michael Sabatino thanked Governor Andrew Cuomo and Yonkers state legislators Senators Andrea Stewart-Cousins and George Latimer; and Assembly members Shelley Mayer and J. Gary Pretlow for granting the authority to localities to raise the maximum income limit “and their continued support of tenants as we enter another cycle of discussion on the continuation of rent regulation in the state.”
New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-35th SD), the Minority Leader said, “This increase in income eligibility for rental assistance for seniors and the disabled will help even more people with affordable housing opportunities in Yonkers. I voted for the increase in the 2014 State Budget, and I’m pleased Yonkers has adopted the new guidelines.”
“Programs like this are important because they assist in improving the quality of life for individuals facing financial hardships, specifically rent-burdened seniors and disabled”, said Senator George Latimer (D-37th SD) who congratulated Yonkers for taking the lead on this issue and NYS HCR Commissioner Darryl Towns and his staff for administering the program.
New York State Assembly Member J. Gary Pretlow (D-89th AD) added “I commend Councilman Johnson for proposing this this legislation and the members of the Yonkers City Council for their united support, which will provide immediate relief to the seniors and disabled residents of the City of Yonkers who qualify for the exemption and will hopefully incite other local municipalities to raise the maximum income limits also.”
New York State Assembly Member Shelley Mayer (D-90th AD) stated “I congratulate the entire Yonkers City Council on enacting these important expansions of rental protection for low income seniors and disabled persons in
Yonkers. I was pleased to support these changes in the New York State Assembly, and will continue to fight for affordable housing and the strengthening of New York’s rent protection laws during this session in Albany.”
Gloria Jordan a member of Community Voices Heard (CVH) and an eligible resident thanked Yonkers for its leadership, “this means a lot to seniors struggling to make ends meet.”
According to Rev. Emma Loftin-Woods a tenant representative to the Westchester Rent Guidelines Board and advocate for the program, who praised Yonkers for its leadership, “There are approximately 45,000 units of Rent Regulated housing in the three counties but only 400 (1%) utilizing SCRIE/DRIE – compared to over 10% of the close to one million units of rent regulated housing in New York City. Hopefully with higher limits and greater awareness more folks can remain in their homes longer and lead healthy lives in dignity.
NYS Homes & Community Renewal (HCR) Deputy Counsel Chuck Lesnick who spoke at the Council Budget Committee meetings and at the Committee of the Whole meeting confirmed that “income eligible ETPA or Rent Controlled tenants can apply through our White Plains office at 75 South Broadway and may contact the office via telephone at 914-948-4434 for additional information. Other municipalities in Westchester, Rockland and Nassau are currently considering increasing the limits too, so tenants can check with HCR or their locality as to the status of those deliberations.”