Update below

More than 5,700 of the 61,000 households afforded a rent freeze by a subsidy program for elderly and disabled people just found out they're losing it.

The Post reports:

The officials said that the Finance Department sent notices over the last two weeks telling elderly and disabled tenants in more than 5,700 households that their subsidies under two programs known as SCRIE and DRIE are in jeopardy. The stunned tenants are flooding the offices of their local legislators, who are sounding the alarm.

Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal (D-Upper West Side) was one such official, and she demanded the Department of Finance take no action until next year, and to clarify exactly what it intends to do.

"We need time and details from the Department of Finance to determine how to best serve tenants who will be impacted by the renewal changes in the Rent Freeze program," she said in a statement.

The programs, collectively known as the NYC Rent Freeze Program, are, as we wrote last month:

[...] available to disabled New Yorkers and those over 62 living in rent-controlled, rent-stabilized, and Mitchell-Lama apartments, which account for well more than half of New York's rental housing stock. The city pays the landlords the difference between what they could charge and the frozen rent through tax credits.

The program has a $50,000 income cap, which is in danger of being reduced, but it also requires tenants to spend more than a third of their income on rent each year. The Department of Finance, according to the Post, looked at recipients' incomes last year, but neglected to do the proportional calculation. Now the agency has sent confusing letters to thousands of elderly and disabled subsidy recipients saying they may keep their rent freeze, they may lose it, or their rent may be increased slightly.

Councilwoman Margaret Chin's spokesman said that because an administrative oversight appears to be to blame, the city should let the matter lie for a moment.

"If it’s something the agency is at fault for, it’s not something the city should yank away," spokesman Sam Spokony said.

All told, 623 households with seniors are set to totally lose their rent freezes, and 4,848 are supposed to see their rent hiked, according to Department of Finance data provided by Chin's office. Forty-nine apartments with disabled tenants could lose the freeze, while 210 could have the rent increased.

Update 11:40 am:

A spokesman for the Mayor's Office said that the Department of Finance began reviewing subsidy programs following a comptroller audit of the Disabled Homeowners' Exemption Program that showed the agency wasn't keeping tabs on participants, and in three cases people were receiving the tax benefit after the disabled person in their household had died. The spokesman, Peter Kadushin, stressed that the rent-freeze eligibility formula has not changed.