A message to older New Yorkers and New Yorkers with disabilities, freeze your rent! – Harlem World Magazine
By Beridiana Calderon
It’s no secret that rent prices are rising in New York. But there’s a secret you need to know: Some New Yorkers can freeze their rent.
For over twenty years, I lived in my apartment in Washington Heights. When I moved in, my daughter was just a baby, and now her babies are raised here too.
While my daughter goes to work, I get up early every day to accompany my eldest granddaughter to primary school and then come back to feed my youngest granddaughter breakfast before going to the park and then to do my household chores. This is my labor of love.
But like thousands of other New Yorkers, I struggled to pay my rent and keep my house.
Fortunately, in 2017, I had a breakthrough. On a date with my sister, her friend told me she had frozen her rent, and maybe I could too.
After enrolling in a rent freeze program, the amount she paid in rent “froze” and stayed the same from year to year, and the government picked up the rest, allowing her to save thousands of dollars in the long run.
I had to register as soon as possible because my rent was going to go up, but I was worried that the paperwork would be too heavy to do on my own.
Luckily, I contacted the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit (PEU) rent freeze hotline at 929-252-724 — and so will you. I received free and personalized support to complete the documents from the Ministry of Finance and I managed to freeze my rent.
Every year that I renew my lease, I have to submit it to the Ministry of Finance to maintain my rent freeze status; and if I have any questions, I can contact PEU.
In fact, during the pandemic, I was having trouble with renewal paperwork while our city was closed. So I called the hotline again and got back in touch with the PEU Hakim specialist.
Despite the obstacles we faced, Hakim helped me renew my status and keep the cost of my rent frozen. Without his help, I would have lost my benefits and would have had to reapply to freeze my rent at the new increased rate.
If you have a new lease this year and also need to renew your rent freeze benefit, be sure to renew before Deadline June 30, 2022.
LITTLE can accompany you. Missing this critical deadline could cost your family thousands of dollars.
If you are a New Yorker over the age of 62 or have a disability, there really is no better time than now to apply for New York City rent freeze benefits, except may -be yesterday.
There are two types of rent freeze benefits provided by the city: Senior Citizens Rent Increase Waiver (SCRIE) for seniors over age 62 and Rent Increase Waiver for Seniors. Disabilities (DRIE) for New Yorkers with Disabilities over the age of 18.
New Yorkers have a few requirements to be eligible, and you can use this online tool to check your eligibility.
When I joined the program in 2017, my rent was frozen and it hasn’t increased since. Since renewing my rent freeze status, I am now saving almost $900 per year, which is more than a month’s rent for me!
And every year that I renew, I will continue to save more money. In fact, with current rate increases starting in October, I could save up to $1,400 per year after my next lease renewal. Even more, a reason to freeze your rent now or make sure you renew it.
The paperwork can be daunting, especially if you’re a senior or a disabled New Yorker like me, but help is available.
If you need more information about the program or advice on how to apply, or if you are already registered and need help renewing your status, you should contact PEU.
They worked with me one-on-one to register for DRIE – and anyone can call the rent freeze hotline at 929-252-7242 for free help from a specialist like Hakim.
I’m sharing my story now so others like me know the benefits of freezing their rent. We love our home, and I know what it’s like to worry about losing it.
With my rent frozen, I can enjoy my family in a whole new way: I enjoy watching my granddaughters’ faces light up with joy in the park near our house, instead of worrying about the how I’m going to make next month’s rent.
All New Yorkers deserve to feel secure in their housing situation. Do not let the time pass; request (or renew) the rent freeze today.
Beridiana Calderon is originally from the Dominican Republic; she has lived in her Washington Heights apartment for 26 years with her daughter and two granddaughters.