By Madina Toure
Flushing Senior Housing Month, a series of rent-freeze registration events for eligible senior citizens and people with disabilities, will take place in May.
City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), along with elected officials and representatives from the city Finance Department and community groups, announced the event April 14 on the steps of Flushing Library.
Starting May 5, the Finance Department will staff locations around Flushing with case workers who will help residents apply for Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemptions, known as SCRIE, and Disability Rent Increase Exemptions, called DRIE.
The programs are managed by the Finance Department to provide eligible vulnerable populations living in rent-controlled and rent-stabilized apartments with a rent freeze.
In 2014, the city raised the income eligibility requirements for both of these programs to $50,000, according to Koo.
The councilman said senior citizens and people with disabilities in Flushing are vastly underserved by the programs.
“Flushing Senior Housing Month is a targeted effort to educate and enroll eligible residents in these important cost-saving, rent freeze programs,” he said. “We need to get the word out to people in every language that you may be qualified to have your rent frozen.”
Flushing has one of the highest numbers of non-participating eligible households for SCRIE in all of New York City, with 1,434 enrolled and 2,305 eligible households not enrolled, Koo said.
He also said disparities stem from cultural factors such as language barriers, lack of communication from government and media and a negative perception of receiving government support.
The events will be held at the following locations:
• SelfHelp Benjamin Rosenthal Senior Center at 45-25 Kissena Blvd., May 5 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. RSVP at (718) 559-4468.
• Chinese Planning Council Nanshan Senior Center at 136-18 39th Ave., 6th Floor, May 12 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. RSVP at (718) 358-3030.
• Minkwon Center for Community Action at 136-19 41st Ave., #3, May 19 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. RSVP at (718) 460-5600 ext. 306.
• South Asian Council for Social Services at 143-06 45th Ave., May 26 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. RSVP at (718) 321-7929.
• Koo’s office at 135-27 38th Ave. June 2 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. RSVP at (718) 888-8747.
To qualify, applicants must be renting an apartment that is rent-controlled, rent-stabilized or is part of a Mitchell-Lama development; have a total annual household income of $50,000 or less; and pay more than one-third of the household’s total monthly income for rent.
For SCRIE, the applicant must be at least 62 years old. For DRIE, the applicant must be at least 18 years old and receive one of four federal disability benefits: Federal Supplemental Security Income, Federal Social Security Disability Insurance, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs disability pension or compensation, which must be military-service related disability pension; or disability-related Medicaid, if the applicant has received either SSI or SSDI in the past.
Public housing units run by the New York City Housing Authority are ineligible.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour