Assembly Budget Proposal Addresses Senior Housing & Other Vital Services for Older New Yorkers, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz Announces

March 20, 2017

A new Elder Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), funding for Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) and investments in other fundamental senior programs and services are among the priorities for older New Yorkers included in the Assembly’s one-house budget proposal, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) announced.

“For countless seniors in New York, the rising costs of rent have threatened the ability of seniors to stay in their homes,” said Assemblymember Cymbrowitz, Chair of the Housing Committee and former chair of the Aging Committee. “Seniors cannot afford to be put on waiting lists for safe affordable housing to become available. Our budget offers more meaningful solutions to address these critical issues.”

As the Baby Boom population has aged, New York State’s older population has grown and will continue to grow significantly. By the year 2025, the state’s overall older population will comprise nearly a quarter of the state’s total population, making these services and programs increasingly more critical.

Recognizing the importance of “aging in place,” the spending plan includes a new program – ERAP -- that would provide rental assistance to older adults in New York City who are paying more than 30 percent of their monthly income toward rent. The legislation creating the program was crafted jointly by the Mayor’s Office and Assembly and was introduced by Assemblyman Cymbrowitz earlier this month.

To be eligible for ERAP, the senior and his or her family would be required to have a total income equal to or less than 80 percent of the area median income. The amount of rental assistance would be calculated as the difference between the senior’s rent payable, or maximum rent set by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and 30 percent of the senior’s monthly income. The program would be funded by a 2.5 percent transfer tax paid by the buyer on multi-million dollar real estate transactions of condos, co-ops and one to three-family homes. The tax would apply only to the amount of the transaction exceeding $2 million.

The Assembly’s budget proposal also includes $1 million for Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) and $1 million for Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NNORCs). The plan also includes $125 million for a senior housing program to create new housing opportunities.

In addition to assisting seniors with housing costs, the Assembly’s budget includes a measure that would reject the governor’s proposal to eliminate an option for Enhanced STAR renewal applications. The Assembly’s proposal would allow seniors to continue exercising the option to submit a renewal application every year together with a copy of their income tax form to their local assessor.

The Assembly’s budget proposal also includes provisions aimed at reducing the cost of prescription drugs, and restores $23.8 million in long term care reductions and $10 million to maintain the right of spousal refusal. The proposal also provides $2 million in additional funding to support the Community Services for the Elderly program, which provides personal care, home delivered meals, transportation, senior centers, and other important services.

Additionally, the Assembly spending plan restores Title XX funding of $27 million to its original discretionary purposes for Local Social Service Districts and removes the Governor’s proposal to mandate that such funds be used only for child care. This will prevent the closure of 65 senior centers in New York City.

The proposal also calls for the creation of the Office of the Utility Consumer Advocate to help vulnerable seniors living on fixed incomes and includes $1.5 million in funding for organizations that advocate on behalf of consumers regarding utility cases before the Public Service Commission.

“Too many seniors live in poverty and, even with entitlements and other forms of support, face daily struggles trying to pay for essentials such as medications, food and rent within the constraints of a fixed income,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said. “I’m pleased that the Assembly’s budget proposal is stepping in to fulfill its commitment to this vulnerable constituency.”