News about the SCRIE program

January 6, 2016

 

Dear Friends,
 
Before the holidays, I attended a meeting that the NYC Dep’t of Finance’s SCRIE (and DRIE) unit hosts twice a year in which legal advocates discuss their concerns with the people who actually run the SCRIE program – who in turn provide us with news and updates.  I'd like to let you know about some of the things that we learned at that event.
 
This meeting was unusual in that we met not only with the SCRIE staff but also with Department of Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha, along with the agency’s general counsel.  Commissioner Jiha explained that he wants his staff to facilitate better and more open communication with advocates, and to this end he discussed the prospect of a new task force, perhaps to meet quarterly, that would involve both attorney and non-attorney advocates.  Stay tuned for more information about this possibility. 
 
Commissioner Jiha also emphasized his desire that his agency show compassion toward seniors while also fulfilling its duty to enforce the law.  These remarks addressed, in part, what we advocates have said is our continuing challenge to obtain the restoration of SCRIE benefits for some seniors who failed to recertify as a result of their alleged disabilities.  On this subject, we also learned from the agency’s general counsel that requests for reinstatement of benefits for such seniors will be reviewed by the City’s EEO office, under new rules to be released in several months.
 
And speaking of SCRIE renewals, we were told that the agency is looking into the possibility of initiating a streamlined, automated system whereby renewals in their present form would not be needed.  And Bibi Parmar, who was recently appointed as the new SCRIE and DRIE Director, commented that the agency is trying to make the application simpler and more straightforward.  
 
The Dep’t of Finance is also working on creating a landlord portal, where landlords could look up SCRIE and DRIE statuses and “drop off” new leases.  The success of such a portal would largely depend, of course, on landlords’ participation.
 
Finally, we learned that the Dep’t of Finance receives a good number of new and renewal SCRIE applications on outdated, obsolete forms – causing delays in processing.  So the SCRIE staff urged advocates to make sure that clients are using the most current forms – all of which can be accessed by clicking here.
 
All the best, and happy 2016!
 
Alex