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July 2005
DRIE (Disability Rent Increase Exemption) PASSES

Under newly passed City and State legislation, people with disabilities will now have DRIE, Disability Rent Increase Exemption, but it will only cover incomes up to $17,000, not $24,000 like the cut-off seniors have under SCRIE (Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption).

It took a huge effort on the part of the housing groups Coalition for the Homeless as well as Tenants and Neighbors, the disability groups of CIDNY (Center for Independence of the Disabled in New York) and Disabled In Action (represented by Frieda Zames and Michael Imperiale). These groups formed the Fair Housing Coalition and worked with Matt Sapolin of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, legislators (especially bill sponsors Scott Stringer and Alexander "Pete" Grannis), and City Councilmember Margarita Lopez to get the DRIE legislation passed.

Next year, we will have to work to have income eligibility parity with seniors, and state legislators have promised to make it a priority. It is arbitrary and unfair that people with disabilities who have low incomes are forced to spend more of their money on rent than seniors do. What makes this particularly galling is that over a period of the next five years, the income limit will be raised from $24,000 to $29.000 for seniors!

The legislation applies only to rent-controlled and rent-regulated residents and awaits the Governor's approval before becoming law.

The bill places an income cap tied to the wage limits under the Social Security Income (SSI) benefit. It is estimated that this expanded eligibility will apply to between 15,000 and 20,000 disabled New Yorkers. People with disabilities who receive SSI, SSDI, disability compensation from the United States military, or Medicaid buy-in program within the income limits would be eligible.

Stringer responded: "It's about time. The City's disabled bear, just as Senior Citizens do, the burden of higher costs of living, especially when it comes to their health. Affording them this benefit is long overdue."