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How To Apply For Affordable Housing In New York City

What Are The Income Requirements For The Nyc Housing Lottery

Applying to a New York City Affordable Housing Lottery: Video Guide

Its impossible to talk about affordable housing without understanding the area median income , which is the measurement the city uses to determine who is eligible for affordable housing. Based on how much you earn relative to your AMI, your housing costs will vary. For 2020, the AMI in the New York City region for a three-person family is $102,400 .

The lottery has units that address varying types of financial needs, from extremely low-income, which means someone makes 0 30 % of the neighborhoods AMI, all the way up to middle income, which means someone makes 120 165% AMI, with numbers adjusted based on family size. The latter addresses the major misconception that the lottery is only for low-income folks.

Suppose you find all of the above confusing, no worries. One of the best new features on the new NYC Housing Connect site is its calculator. Just enter your income and relevant information, and it will figure out which lotteries are a good fit.

Affordable Housing In New York: How To Apply For Affordable Apartments

Believe it or not, it was only seven years ago that the citys affordable housing application process went digital. The website, NYC Housing Connect, launched in 2012, and since then has made it easierin theoryfor New Yorkers to apply for affordable apartments in buildings across the five boroughs.

Of course, while applying for an affordable apartment itself is easy, actually getting an apartment is not. As New Yorks rental prices skyrocket and the demand for cheap housing grows ever-higher, more and more people are applying for the few affordable apartments available in qualifying buildings. The first rental within the Domino Sugar redevelopment, for example, received 87,000 applications for just 104 apartments.

That may have you feeling some despair about your chances of actually snagging one of these coveted apartmentsand hey, were not going to pretend like one will magically fall into your lap. But still, its worth a shot if youre looking for an affordable place to live.

Heres everything you need to know about applying, what to expect, and more.

What Counts As Affordable Anyway

This is where things get a little tricky. The monthly rent for an affordable apartment in New York City hinges on something called area median income , which the HPD explains as such:

The median income for all cities across the country is defined each year by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development . The 2019 AMI for the New York City region is $96,100 for a three-person family .

If that number seems high, thats because it is: The median family income for NYC in 2019, according to HUD, is $75,500. Why is the AMI so high, then? As we previously reported, the federal government doesnt use data from only New York City when calculating AMI. Following a complex history of changing methodologies, this calculation now includes income data from three other counties outside of the city: Rockland, Putnam, and Westchester counties.

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Who can afford New York Citys affordable apartments?

When developers are adding affordable housing in their new buildings, they set aside a number of apartments that are priced for those making a certain percentage of the AMI. Low-income housing, for example, may be allocated for households making up to 60 percent of the AMI, while middle-income may be priced for those making up to 100 percent of the AMI, and so on.

This can lead to a pretty wide disparity between housing costs and what New Yorkers can actually afford, particularly in neighborhoods where the median income is vastly different than the AMI.

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What Do The Critics Think

Lots of things! Critics say that this method of determining whats affordable doesnt necessarily create housing thats truly affordable. Whats within reach for someone in an affluent neighborhood like the Upper West Side, for example, may not be in reach for someone in Crown Heights. And yet AMI is the same across the city, and takes counties outside of the citywhich, naturally, have higher median incomesinto account.

Additionally, studies have shown that the current affordable housing lottery overwhelmingly favors young, single tenantsbecause developers arent creating enough apartments that are fit for families, or those with childrenas well as white tenants.

Oh, and then theres the whole poor door controversy, which is the larger issue of developers separating the subsidized tenants from ones paying market-ratesome developers have built their affordable housing in separate buildings, or ask them to enter through separate entrances.

So long story short, the way affordable housing is allocated currently is definitely not without its problems, and its a bit of a slog that may or may not pay off. But if youre armed with information going into the process of applying, its worth a shot.

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Have Your Rent Frozen

Where to find affordable housing in NYC

If you are a rent stabilized tenant you can apply to have your rent frozen under the Freeze Your Rent program and the Disabled Rent Increase Exemption programs). For more information on the Freeze Your Rent program, .

For assistance with the Freeze Your Rent program, including enrollment, renewals, appeals, transfers, and adjustments, you can contact the Department of Finances SCIRE/DRIE Unit online, or visit the SCRIE and DRIE Walk-in Office at 66 John Street, 3rd floor, Monday to Friday, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

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How To Apply: Nyc Affordable Housing Lottery

First things first: head to the new NYC Housing Connect where lottery postings will start appearing in late July or August and make a profile. The updated website was created to increase transparency and make people better understand what lotteries fit their income levels and family size.

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Enact Property Tax Reform

State lawmakers should pass reforms to make the Citys property tax system more equitable and efficient. Comprehensive tax reform should include provisions to reduce the high tax rate on multifamily rental buildings relative to single family homes and other owner-occupied units. This would reduce the tax burden on renters and allow lawmakers to reform tax incentive programs like 421-a to make them more efficient and better targeted.

Neither the private nor the public sector will be able to solve New Yorks housing crisis on its own, especially for the lowest income New Yorkers. However, the path to a housing market that meets the demands of residents needs a concerted effort to boost housing production. While the current economic crisis may slow construction activity in the near term, acting now to increase production will set the stage for and catalyze a more competitive and equitable housing market as the economy recovers. The strategies identified in this report represent a dramatic but necessary change in the States and Citys approaches to development. Building more housing for every type of household can help make the New York region more affordable and competitive for generations to come.

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Find A Rental You Can Afford

Although housing costs in Brooklyn are soaring, affordable housing is still available. Some new developments are required to include affordable units. You may qualify for one of these units, depending on your income and the size of your family. We help you find affordable units you qualify for and help you apply.

Reasons For New York Citys Lagging Housing Production

How YOU Can Get HPD 421a Affordable Housing Lottery in NEW YORK CITY! (TUTORIAL)

New York Citys housing production has lagged peer cities for many reasons. Some are beyond the direct influence of State and local government. Development in New York City is constrained by its water borders short of creating new land, there are fewer opportunities to build new housing as there are in regions that can continue to grow outward through annexation and suburbanization or in less dense cities like Austin or Denver.

New York Citys low housing growth rate, however, is not the result of a lack of demand. Between the end of the Great Recession and the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Citys economy added jobs at a record-setting rate, while rents continued to rise and vacancy rates remained low.16 Rather, it is the product of decades of policy choices by City and State officials some deliberate, others unintendedthat have slowed the pace of new construction in many neighborhoods. There are three problems that contribute to New Yorks underproduction of housing.

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Distortionary Property Tax System

The third factor in New Yorks lagging housing production is that the Citys opaque and inequitable property tax system, which taxes multifamily rental properties at a significantly higher effective tax rate than single-family homes, condominiums, and cooperatives. According to an analysis conducted by the Lincoln Land Institute, New York Citys classification ratio, or the difference between the effective tax rates on apartments and single-family homes, is 2.55, which is the second highest among large cities in the United States.35

The high effective tax rate on multifamily rental propertiesand particularly on buildings of 11 or more unitsrequires that a significant share of a buildings income goes toward paying taxes. Depending on a buildings size, age, and amenities, property taxes make up one-quarter to one-third of many buildings annual operating expenses before reserves, debt service, and profit.36 The high tax rate also makes it more difficult to finance new buildings, particularly in moderate-income neighborhoods where the market may not support the rents needed to justify new construction projects.

To compensate for the high tax rate for multi-family buildings, the City offers property tax breaks to encourage the development of new rental buildings. Given the high cost of construction and the high tax rate, rental properties outside of the Manhattan core often are not financially feasible without tax incentives.37

There Are Two Nyc Housing Lottery Sites

Peter Cooper Village was once a Mitchell-Lama lottery building.

In addition to NYC Housing Connect the portal that streamlines many affordable lottery units theres also the lesser-known Mitchell-Lama program, which has its own website. The Mitchell-Lama program, named after two senators, was created to serve middle-income families. It built approximately 135,000 affordable housing units over 23 years. But that number shrunk. Many of these units are now market-rate apartments thanks to an option that allowed buildings to leave the program after a certain number of years. HPD hopes to ultimately streamline the Mitchell-Lama units into the NYC Housing Connect platform in the future.

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Need Assistance Getting Your Landlord To Respond To Your Repair Requests

If your landlord has been non-responsive regarding repair requests we suggest that you document the condition with photos. CB6 may be able to help. Please send all emails regarding landlord issues to . Additionally, JustFix.nyc, a housing advocacy non-profit, has launched a free web-app for tenants to notify your landlord of repair issues via USPS Certified Mail. to access that tool.

Section 202 Supportive Housing For The Elderly

Where to find affordable housing in NYC

Residents who are looking to have government-regulated housing, however, may choose to make use of the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program.

This program, specifically designed to help seniors in need, provides assistance to low-income seniors in need of rental assistance. Additionally, this program now includes funds for support services such as meals and transportation. The New York City government notes that these services are designed to help residents maintain independent living.

These programs work to reduce the economic burden of low-income seniors by providing housing and services as a set rate of 30% of ones income. The rest of the cost is shouldered through federal subsidies.

To be eligible for this program, seniors must be the following qualifications:

62-years of age or older

Low income and low-to-moderate

While this form of housing may be popular, the supply doesnt quite reach the demand. For this reason, residents who wish to find housing through the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program may find themselves on years-long waiting lists.

Whats more, the housing has become so full that many residences no longer accept resident applications. For this reason, if youre in need of immediate housing assistance, consider trying one of the above options.

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If Youre A Young Adult

1-800-RUNAWAY offers information for youth looking for housing. Visit the organizations website or call them at 1-800-RUNAWAY.

The New York City Department of Youth & Community Development also offers resources for runaway and homeless youth. Follow the link and choose “Runaway & Homeless Youth” from the first drop-down menu.

Are You Eligible

Common misconception is that affordable housing is developed for the purpose of housing the very poor. However, the Affordable Housing Program allows applicants to earn a middle range income.

How is that?

The Affordable Housing Program designates 20% of the units in an Affordable Housing Project to be occupied by applicants who earn up to 60% of the Annual Median Income which is currently set at $38,100 per year for an individual, and $54,360 for a family of four.

However, in many instances, developers may choose to increase the allowances for such earners to up to 50% of the units due to multiple reasons such as additional tax credits or other development advantages.

Such creates an opportunity for middle income earners to apply for affordable housing, since it is the developer that will set the minimum.

To determine whether you are eligible to apply, based on yourincome, check out the guidelines provided by the New York Housing Development Corporation.

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How Do You Apply

Apply online or through mail. To apply online, please go to To request an application by mail, send your mailing address to: Call/text/leave a message on , M – F 9 am- 5 pm.

Only send one application per development. Do not submit duplicate applications. Do not apply online and also send in a paper application. Applicants who submit more than one application may be disqualified.

Is There Any Way To Improve My Chances

New NYC affordable housing website explained

Residents of New Yorks various community boards get preferential status for affordable apartments in their district, so looking for housing in your neighborhood could help. Applicants with hearing, mobility, or vision impairments are also given preference, as are those who work for the city.

In some cases, developers may set aside a number of units for other reasonsfor example, Essex Crossings first affordable housing lottery allocated a number of apartments for former residents of the Seward Park Extension Urban Renewal Area.

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Who Qualifies For Subsidized Housing In New York City

Youd be surprised, but most people who live in New York City will be able to qualify for some kind of housing lottery.

The typical income range maxes out at 145% of the median income for the area.

Depending on how many people will be living in the apartment, this can easily exceed $100,000 a year.

That being said, many developments favor people who are considered to be low income by New York City Standards.

Housing Production Was Limited To Certain Types Of Units

As New York Citys economy recovered from the Great Recession, high-rise housing accounted for an increasing share of newly constructed units. This was the product both of a development boom in neighborhoods like Downtown Brooklyn that were upzoned in the 2000s along with a steady decline in the number of low-rise buildings built in other areas of the city, many of which were downzoned.

The New York City Department of City Planning noted this trend in a recent report on regional housing and job growth, identifying a post-Great Recession trend toward housing production in locations where land is more expensive, and in building types that are more costly to construct, with less housing production overall.10 DCPs analysis found that in 2007 approximately half of newly-built units were located in one- to six-story buildings by 2017, on a similar overall volume of completions, that share had fallen to 24 percent. By contrast, buildings with 40 or more stories increased from approximately 6 percent of new completions to 20 percent.11

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Frequently Asked Questionsabout Affordable Housing

How Do I Find Affordable Housing Opportunities?

New York City housing lotteries are listed on Housing Connect, a portal maintained by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. You can also find listings advertised in newspapers and on HPD social media, as well as get sign up for updates from HPD. You can also sign up for email updates from IMPACCT Brooklyn with new listings and information to help improve your chances with the lottery.

How Are Tenants Selected For Affordable Housing?

Tenants for affordable housing units are often chosen by a lottery process. To enter your name in the lottery, you have to fill out an application form for each building that you want to apply for. Preference may be given to:

  • People who already live in the area
  • Employees of the City of New York
  • Veterans
  • Residents who are physically, visually or hearing disabled

Do I Qualify for Affordable Housing?

Housing ads and website listings will include the minimum and maximum income limits for the available units. The ad for the housing will also tell you the size of the available units studio, one bedroom, two bedroom and the number of people who can live in each unit, based on the income limits set for each building. You will also need good credit, a steady income, a bank account, and a history of paying your bills on time.

How Do I Apply for Affordable Housing?

What Do I Need to Apply for Affordable Housing?

What Should I Do BEFORE Applying for Affordable Housing?

IMPACCT Brooklyn

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