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City Pushes To Have Rent Frozen for Seniors

 Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha speaks at a press conference to get seniors into the rent freeze program.
Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha speaks at a press conference to get seniors into the rent freeze program.
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Dartunorro Clark/DNAInfo

HARLEM — Too many seniors are being pushed out of their apartments because of rising rents, the city says.

A rent freeze program that too few are using will be highlighted to older residents during a campaign announced Thursday at an event at Harlem’s Hamilton Grange Senior Center, at 420 W. 145th St.

“Rent regulated tenants are fearful of their landlords,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said. “And rent is presently a real problem for our seniors.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Community Affairs Unit, the city’s Department of Finance, Brewer’s office and the Community Service Society, an organization that helps low-income New Yorkers, will work together on the city-wide campaign.

The program helps seniors and people with disabilities who live in rent-regulated apartments and have an income up to $50,000 stave off increases in rent.

The city estimates 3,900 seniors living in Harlem, and hundreds of thousands across the city, qualify to have their rent frozen. Many have not applied.

“More than half of the 155,0000 (eligible) seniors have not signed up,” said Jacques Jiha, commissioner for the city’s Department of Finance.

“Our goal is to get as many people as possible in this program because this program is underutilized.”

Brewer said her office has set up a headquarters for seniors to sign up for the rent freeze program at 431 W. 125th St. They can also visit nyc.gov/rentfreeze

To be eligible for the program you must be 62-years-old or older, make up to $50,000 in combined annual income, rent an apartment that is at least one-third of your monthly household income, have an apartment that is rent-controlled or stabilized or live in an HDFC cooperative or an apartment administered by the Housing and Preservation and Development.

NYCHA and Section 8 housing are not eligible, according to city guidelines.