Public comments for: Rules for SCRIE-DRIE Application Late Filing

Comments

Comment:
Attached you will find the written comments submitted on behalf of Cardozo Bet Tzedek Legal Services, Legal Services for the Elderly in Queens, Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, Housing Conservation Coordinators, Inc., and Volunteers of Legal Services, Inc., Elderly Project in response to the request for comments on the New York City Department of Finance's proposed amendments to 19 RCNY § 52-01, "Rules Relating to Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption ('SCRIE') and Disability Rent Increase Exemption ('DRIE')," collectively referred to as the Rent Freeze Program.
Agency: DOF
Comment:
Natalie M. Chin, Brooklyn Law School, Advocates for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Legal Clinic
Agency: DOF
Comment:
The Legal Aid Society 199 Water Street New York, NY 10038 (212) 577-3300 www.legal-aid.org Direct Dial: (718) 286-2133 Direct Fax: (646) 449-6954 E-mail: Kredmon@legal-aid.org September 21, 2015 Comments to Proposed Rule Re: The proposed addition of Chapter 52, “Rules Relating to Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption and Disability Rent Increase Exemption Program,” to Title 19 of the Rules of New York City (R.N.Y.C.). The proposed rule would incorporate SCRIE and DRIE regulations already codified in the City Administrative Code, into the R.N.Y.C. as rules promulgated by the Department of Finance, and would give SCRIE and DRIE participants additional time to file renewal applications based on good cause or extraordinary medical circumstances, as defined by the Department of Finance. Although the proposed rule recognizes the difficulties that many seniors and disabled recipients face under the current renewal application procedures, The Legal Aid Society opposes the proposed rule because: 1) its definitions of “good cause” and “extraordinary medical circumstances” are too narrow and will continue to lead to wrongful deprivation of a needed benefit which will in turn lead to the loss of affordable housing by countless participants; 2) the Agency’s unwritten policies act to deprive clients of procedural due process, and the proposed rule fails entirely to address this by failing to clarify the regulations as they exist in the Administrative Code; and 3) it fails to develop and implement a simplified renewal application process as authorized by the Administrative Code. Please see attached Comment, "Legal Aid Society Opposition to Proposed Addition of Chapter 52 to Title 19 of the R.N.Y.C."
Agency: DOF
Comment:
The grounds under which an extension of time would be allowed under the proposed rule are excessively narrow and do not encompass the full range of circumstances that can lead to a belated renewal application. The Department of Finance should retain the ability to consider other reasonable excuses for failure to submit a timely SCRIE or DRIE renewal application, such as a participant's non-receipt of correspondence from DOF, limited English language proficiency, the loss of assistance from a family member or other person who previously assisted the participant, or other circumstances. In addition, no arbitrary time limit should be applied to belated renewal applications resulting from excusable circumstances. The loss of a SCRIE or DRIE benefit can sometimes go unnoticed for a long time before a participant's family member, landlord, or advocate becomes aware of the lapsed benefit. Extremely serious consequences can result from the loss of a housing subsidy such as SCRIE or DRIE. An affordable long-term tenancy can suddenly become unaffordable and may be irreplaceable. Vulnerable older and disabled tenants who lose their SCRIE or DRIE may become homeless, while their former landlords enjoy a windfall in the form of newly vacant apartments that may be able to be rented at far higher rents. Severely limiting the circumstances under which SCRIE and DRIE participants can preserve their benefits, as proposed, runs directly counter to the policy goals of these crucial programs as intended by the state legislature and the City Council. Considering that the Department of Finance (and before it, the Department for the Aging) has operated the SCRIE and DRIE programs without ever formally promulgating a single rule, the decision to deal with the issue of late renewals through rulemaking may have serious ramifications for participants in these programs.Advocates have come to expect DOF to exercise discretion so as to avoid harm to participants. and this rule would seem to cabin the agency’s discretion in a way that could cause the irrevocable loss of benefits and affordable tenancies. A formal rule on this issue should not be implemented simply because of a challenge to the way the Department's procedures have affected one category of participants in the past. I urge the Department of Finance to withdraw the proposed rule and revise it so as to ensure that late renewal applications for which a reasonable excuse is offered are accepted, preserving critical SCRIE and DRIE benefits for vulnerable New York tenants who might otherwise lose their affordable apartments and become homeless. Sincerely, Stuart W. Lawrence Senior Staff Attorney Housing Conservation Coordinators, Inc. 777 10th Avenue New York NY 10019
Agency: DOF
Comment:
Please accept the attached comment from MFY Legal Services on PROPOSED AMENDMENT OF TITLE 19 OF THE RULES OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK: APPLICATIONS AND RENEWAL APPLICATIONS FOR SENIOR CITIZEN OR DISABLED RENT INCREASE EXEMPTIONS.
Agency: DOF