NYC Affordable Housing Lotteries 101

the openigloo team

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What is it, who is eligible, and how to apply?

The affordable housing lottery is a program aimed at helping renters secure affordable housing within the 5 boroughs.

New York City is expensive, and apartments are scarce. In order to meet the demands of a growing population, the city is constantly building apartments. Affordable housing lottery helps tenants secure affordable housing throughout the five boroughs. Here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions we receive about the affordable housing lottery at openigloo:

1. What is the affordable housing lottery program in NYC?

NYC affordable housing lotteries are run by two city agencies; The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the Housing Development Corporation (HDC). These agencies collaborate with private landlords and real-estate developers to make sure a portion of new development projects are affordable and reserved for the housing lottery. The city considers an apartment affordable if the tenant does not spend more than 30% of their household income on rent. In exchange for participating in the program, these private landlords and real-estate developers receive multi-decade tax abatements. In the lottery, all apartments have rent stabilization leases, which means tenants are eligible to renew, and the rent can only go up by a certain amount every year. The affordable housing lottery is just one way to secure a rent-stabilized apartment. It’s not the only way. To learn more about rent-regulated apartments, read our blog post here.

Who is eligible for affordable housing units in New York?

2. Who is eligible for affordable housing units in New York?

Households of various sizes and incomes are eligible to apply for the lottery. Each building in the lottery has its own rules and parameters for who can apply. For example, below is a matrix explaining who is eligible for apartments in a new Harlem development. This is how you would interpret the top section; there are 13 1-bedroom apartments available for households that make up 130% of the Area Median Income (AMI). Henceforth if your family has 3 people, and together you make between $94,972-$156,130 per year, then you are eligible for that apartment. If the program chose you as renters, you’d pay $2,770 for a rent-stabilized unit in that building.

Available Units & Requirements

3. Can people from outside of New York apply to the lottery?

People from outside of New York can apply for the lottery, but there is a preference for NYC tenants. Therefore, some buildings may also have more specific community preferences, where they need to fill a portion of the units with families from a specific neighborhood.

4. How long will the program take to select apartments?

In fact, no one can predict how long the program takes to select an apartment. Several renters secured an apartment within months, while others waited years. Our successful tenants have told us to be patient and steady; apply, apply, and keep applying.

To learn more about NYC affordable housing lotteries, be sure to visit NYC Housing Connect. There you can browse available apartments and apply.

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