86-year-old Norma Schreier moved into her three bedroom rent-controlled apartment on Central Park West in 1962. At the time, she paid $162 a month.

Now, she pays more than $2,400.

She says her budget is stretched so thin that's she's scrapping physical therapy sessions for an injured shoulder.

"My second session is Wednesday, and after that I'm going to have to discontinue it," Schreier said. "I just can't afford to do that anymore."

She recently qualified for a rent freeze under a public assistance program for low-income seniors. But she says years of increases have made her rent almost unaffordable.

Her situation stands in contrast to the common belief that rent-controlled tenants pay next to nothing to live in palatial apartments.

"The myth that all rent-controlled units are $150 or $200 is just that: it's not true," Manhattan State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal said. 

Every year, there is a lot of attention on the annual rent hikes for tenants in rent-stabilized apartments.

There are about a million such units, all of which were built between 1947 and 1974. Their rents are set by a city board.

But tenants like Schreier are covered by a different system, called rent control, for units built before 1947 and occupied by the same family since 1971. A state agency sets their increases.

As of 2014, there were 27,039 rent-controlled units left. They were mainly occupied by senior citizens, with an average income of $29,000 a year. The median rent was $900 a month.

Over the years, they have seen their rents go up, even as tenants in rent-stabilized units enjoyed freezes. They're expected to be hit with another hike in a couple of weeks, thanks to a rigid and complex formula.

Rosenthal has proposed legislation to change how the increases are calculated.

"We've perhaps reached the tipping point where seniors are now looking for alternatives," the assembly woman said. "They can't remain in their apartments."

Her legislation would allow for flexibility to minimize rent hikes. A spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not say whether Cuomo supports it but said he would work with the legislature next year to enhance tenants' rights.