Disabled Rent Increase Exemption
(Column: Ask the Housing Experts)
Daniel Stern
Elizabeth Peterson, Housing Consultant, Center for Urban Community Services & Daniel J. Stern, Housing Consultant, Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS)
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A new exemption from rent increases is available to thousands of low-income tenants in New York City with disabilities who are currently living in rent-regulated housing. The new program, called the Disabled Rent Increase Exemption, or DRIE, exempts people with disabilities from future rent increases as long as their rent is more than one-third of the household's disposable income. DRIE is patterned after another popular program available only to senior citizens, called the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption program (SCRIE).

Mayor Bloomberg signed the DRIE bill into New York City law on August 9th, 2005. This new program became available in early October 2005.

To be eligible for DRIE, applicants have to meet the following criteria:

Be in receipt of SSI, SSDI, Veterans' benefits, or be currently enrolled in the Medicaid Buy-In Program for the Working Disabled
Have a disabled head of the household
Have a total annual household income of the current income tax year of
An individual living alone: $17,004
An individual living with others but paying his/her own expenses: $15,468
A couple living alone: $24,372
A couple living with others but paying for their own expenses: $22,980
Reside in rent-regulated housing (aka rent-controlled or rent stabilized)
Pay rent that is more than one-third of the household's disposable income
Keep in mind that people who currently receive SCRIE cannot also apply for DRIE; a person may be in one program or the other, but not both. Also, in some circumstances, when a person is receiving DRIE, but becomes eligible for SCRIE, personal circumstances may lead him or her to choose one subsidy over another.

The NYC Department for the Aging can assist people in trying to decide which subsidy is right for them. It is also important to know that if you are determined to be eligible for DRIE, you will be exempt from future rent increases; it does not affect rent increases you have already received (though in cases where benefits are approved retroactively, the landlord may credit any overpayment made toward future rent payments, or give you a refund for the increase).

It is also important to note that a disabled person who is not receiving one of the entitlements/benefits listed above is not eligible for DRIE even if s/he meets the other eligibility criteria and are disabled. In addition, the disabled person who would receive DRIE must be the head of the household applying.

Thus, a household with a disabled child cannot apply unless the head of the household is also disabled. You may still be eligible to apply for/receive DRIE if you work as long as you continue to receive one of the entitlements or benefits listed above and do not exceed the previously mentioned income requirements. Lastly, if you receive DRIE and want to move, you must reapply for DRIE through the Department of Finance for the new apartment or co-op where you will be living, so that your eligibility and subsidy amount can be recalculated for your new circumstances.

Landlords will also benefit from participating in the DRIE program by receiving a credit (aka abatement) that they can apply to their property taxes to compensate them for the rent increases they would have received if the tenant(s) were not in the DRIE program.
If you believe that you qualify for this program or have additional questions about this new program, contact the Mayor's Office of Disability at (212) 788-2830. If you need assistance in completing the DRIE application, please contact 311. If you want to find out more about DRIE, visit the following page on New York City's web site: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dof/html/property/property_tax_reduc_drie.shtml
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