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Apr 15, 2023 | April Xu

How to Apply for Affordable Housing in NYC

A guide to applying for affordable housing for immigrants in NYC

New York City is one of the most expensive cities to live in the United States. New York City ranks eighth among the top 10 most expensive cities in the country, according to a recent report by Consumer Affairs. The median monthly housing cost in New York City is $1,632, the median annual household income is $67,997, and the median percentage of income spent on monthly housing is 28.8%.

To ease the burden of housing costs for low- and middle-income residents, NYC has introduced a series of measures, including subsidized affordable housing lotteries operated by the New York City Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC), low-income housing by NYCHA, and housing for people with AIDS or clinical symptomatic HIV illness, mental illnesses, and other conditions. 

This article will introduce you to the affordable housing lotteries by the HPD and HDC, as well as the eligibility requirements for these programs. As a newsroom that serves immigrant communities, Documented has written a comprehensive guide for immigrants. This article is part of the guide.

What is affordable housing?

The concept of affordable housing is based on a household’s percentage of the Area Median Income (AMI), which is determined annually by the federal government. Housing is considered affordable if the cost of housing is about one-third or less of the household income and is subject to regulation to prevent significant rent increases.

Who is eligible to apply?

To be eligible to apply for affordable housing, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a household income that falls within the relevant limits for the affordable housing project you are applying for
  • Meet other requirements, including asset limits and tenant selection criteria

If you have a disability, are elderly, or live in an administrative district or community board with affordable housing, you may be given priority for some of the affordable units.

Can undocumented immigrants apply for affordable housing?

Yes. New York City eased the process for applying for affordable housing in 2019. Applicants are not required to provide a Social Security Number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number for every adult in the household. Instead, applicants can provide 12 months of positive rent payment history to avoid credit checks. These changes have made affordable housing lotteries accessible to undocumented immigrants.

2022 NYC AMI and affordable monthly rent 

The tables below provide references for the 2022 AMI and affordable monthly rent in New York City:

Note: 0-30% AMI refers to the extremely low-income level, 31-50% AMI refers to the very low-income level, 51-80% AMI refers to the low-income level, 81-120% AMI refers to the moderate-income level, and 121-165% AMI refers to the middle – income level.

Source: HPD

2022 New York City Area Affordable Monthly Rents

Source: HPD

How to apply for affordable housing?

According to the tables above, if your income falls within a certain range, you can log in to the NYC Housing Connect lottery website to search for affordable housing opportunities that match your criteria, register an account, submit relevant materials, wait for the lottery results, and prepare for the interview if you are selected.

  • Preparation: Landlords cannot disqualify you based solely on your credit score, but they may check your credit history. You need to ensure that the information in your credit report is correct and take measures to improve your credit score if necessary. You can log in to annualcreditreport.com to get your credit report for free. Landlords may also want to know about your housing court records, which you can find and print at public computers at housing courts. You can search for the housing court address and detailed information at nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/housing. Make sure to save at least two months’ rent to cover the first month’s rent and security deposit. You may also need to save some extra money to pay for moving expenses.
  • Application: Log in to nyc.gov/housingconnect to create your account profile, which includes personal income information. Go to the “Search” page to view the list of affordable housing units currently accepting applications, which will list the number of units available, application requirements, and application deadlines. Click “Apply” and fill out the form online. You can also fill out a written application and mail it to the relevant department. Note that submitting multiple applications may disqualify you, so do not submit more than one application, either online or in writing. After that, all you need to do is to wait for a reply, which may take a year or more to receive (sometimes you may not receive a reply).
  • Interview: If your application is selected, you will receive a letter or email explaining how to schedule a screening interview. Anyone 18 years or older who plans to live in the apartment must attend the interview, which is very important because the housing agent will determine whether you are eligible to apply for the apartment. Be prepared in advance and make sure you have all the materials needed for the interview. The documents required for the interview may include information about people who will live with you (proof of identity, income, etc.) and current employment information.

After the interview: After the screening interview, you may be approved for the apartment, placed on a waiting list, or rejected. If you receive a rejection letter, you can appeal. See this guide for more information.

Also Read: “NYCHA: How To Apply for Public Housing in NYC”

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