April 17, 2021 By Ryan Songalia
City Councilmember Daniel Dromm introduced a resolution Tuesday that calls on the state to pass legislation that would protect low-income disabled residents against rent increases–no matter their immigration status.
The resolution, introduced in the Immigration Committee, aims to tell Albany that the New York City council believes that all immigrants—including the undocumented—should be eligible for the Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) program, which assists low-income tenants in having their rent frozen at its current rate. It exempts those who qualify from future rent hikes dating back to their initial application approval.
Under the current program, residents must show proof that they receive federal benefits–such as Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income—which requires proof of immigration status.
To get rid of the status requirement, lawmakers in Albany must pass a state law.
“Many disabled individuals in my district and throughout the city are ineligible for no other reason than their immigration status,” Dromm said, who represents Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst.
“They do not qualify for the relevant federal programs and, therefore, do not qualify for DRIE. It is fundamentally unfair that the most vulnerable of the vulnerable are prevented from accessing the very programs that are supposed to be helping them.”
The Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption, or SCRIE—which provides similar protections for low-income people 62 years and older—does not require applicants to have status.
Dromm argues the state legislators should find a way where the undocumented are also eligible for DRIE.
“The purpose of the resolution is to give the state the signal that the council wants this,” Dromm said in an interview. He is confident the resolution will be passed by the council and expects it to be up for a vote in the next few months.
The bill is being sponsored in the state Assembly by Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas and in the State Senate by Gustavo Rivera.
“I am proud to be joining Senator Gustavo Rivera in introducing legislation that will expand eligibility for the Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) to our immigrant neighbors who are excluded from the program,” Gonzalez-Rojas said.
“I’m grateful to Councilman Dromm for his ongoing support of our most vulnerable communities via his resolution in the Council and look forward to getting this legislation passed,” she added.
Christian Murray contributed to this story