STARRETT CITY - Starrett City residents are facing a rent scare as owners plan to opt out of the Mitchell Lama program, which gives tenants low rent prices.

Starrett City has been enrolled in the Mitchell Lama program for a long time, but tenants received a letter on Wednesday informing them that the owners, Starrett City Associates, intend to leave the program. If that happens, tenants could face a major rent hike.

The future of Starrett City tenants has been uncertain since the owners tried to sell the complex to a private developer, Clipper Equity, for $1.3 billion. The bid has expired, and the sale was blocked by federal authorities who called it a bad deal for working-class tenants.

Bernice Carson, who has lived at Starrett City for 19 years, says the low prices have made Starrett City a home and a way of life for residents. She fears a change.

?We?re fighting to keep the rent at the same pace that it?s at,? Carson says. ?I certainly hope it [doesn?t] go up because that would be a hardship on many people that live here, including myself.?

However, Starrett City Associates says that it will work with the government to keep rent affordable.

A member of ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, says that this is just a tactic from the owners. ACORN says the owners are just trying to cut the best deal for themselves at the moment.

No matter what owners decide to do, nothing will go into effect for at least one year.

AP wire reports contributed to this story.