Why you should participate in the NYC Affordable Housing Lottery

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June 9, 2020
can you win the housing lottery in nyc

New York City is one of the most expensive places to live with above average housing costs, but the NYC affordable housing lottery is one option if you are looking for budget-friendly rentals. 

It’s no surprise that living in NYC can take a lot out of your wallet. This is due to the high rental costs along with high cost of living. Manhattan’s average rental cost is $4,208 with the average apartment size of 703 sqft and Brooklyn’s average is $2,951 and average apartment size is 651 sqft.

In comparison, Los Angeles’ average rent is $2,524 with an average apartment size of 792 sqft and Chicago’s average rent is $1,943 with an average apartment size of 749 sqft. In these cases, both of NYC’s boroughs have a higher rent cost and a smaller apartment space. 

So how affordable is it to live in New York City? Compared to Los Angeles and Chicago, NYC isn’t very affordable to live in. This is because NYC’s rent prices are 37.91% higher than LA and 79.99% higher than Chicago. In addition, the cost of living in general is more costly in the Big Apple compared to these two cities and is one of the most expensive cities to live in.

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In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 76,000 people left NYC in 2019 to move to states like Florida, Georgia, and Texas. This is largely due to the costly living expense along with high tax rate, as people are seeking to move to places where rent and groceries are cheaper.

Despite many people moving out of the city, it’s still one of the most populated cities in the United States. So why is that? This could be due to people being able to find budget-friendly rental listings on the market or taking advantage of the housing programs in place. This includes the NYC affordable housing lottery which looks to provide affordable housing for those who qualify.

How do I apply for NYC housing lottery?
400 West 113 Street, #415 Morningside Heights, New York

What is the affordable housing lottery NYC?

The NYC affordable housing lottery is a housing program offered to help ease the financial burden of rent costs. While many people believe this lottery is only for low-income households, there are various housing programs available for people with a wide range of incomes. So regardless if you’re low-income or middle class, you’re still able to find a housing lottery fit for you to land an affordable rental apartment.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) works with NYC to provide these affordable apartments. They encourage real estate developers in the city to create rental and for sale housing at low-cost prices for both low and middle income New Yorkers. According to the HPD, affordable apartments are housing that costs 30% or less than a person’s income. While the HPD is making efforts to continuously create affordable housing, Mayor Bill de Blasio has also pledged to build or preserve 300,000 apartment units of affordable housing by 2026. This ensures that more New Yorkers will have access to cheaper housing.

The apartments available through these housing lotteries are newly constructed or renovated buildings with subsidized apartments. Best of all, the majority of these spaces are also rent-stabilized, meaning your rent won’t change regardless of changes to your income.

How does a housing lottery work?
242 Broome Street, #14A Lower East Side, New York

How do I apply for NYC housing lottery?

The affordable housing lotteries are run by New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). You can easily look through available housing lotteries and apply online through the NYC Housing Connect site. You can also use an interactive map of all housing lotteries to learn more about the income level, household size requirements, and application deadline for certain developments.

NYC uses the AMI, or area median income, to determine who qualifies for affordable and middle-income housing. You can use the 2020 New York City Area AMI chart created by the HPD to determine which income band you fall under and what you should pay for rent in NYC. If you’re wondering if you qualify for affordable housing, you can also use this Eligible Income Levels by Household Size chart to determine if your income fits.

Applying electronically for NYC’s housing lottery:

  • Register and set up an account on the NYC Housing Connect website. Keep in mind that you are only allowed one account per household.
  • Complete your household hold information. This will include your employment and income information for all household members. You can always save it and return to it anytime.
  • You can now apply for any lottery you quality for. Apply for any properties by clicking “submit” before the application deadline. Make sure you only submit one application per property. You can then confirm you submitted an application by reviewing your “Application Status”.
  • Track your application history by viewing all the lotteries you applied for on your online account. Keep in mind that due to the large volume of applicants, it can be a slow process.
What's the cheapest place to live in NYC?
520 West 43 Street, #33G Hell’s Kitchen, New York

Guide to the NYC housing lottery

Now that you know how to apply for the housing lottery, you may have more questions about the process and tips for applying. We’re here to put your mind and ease and help you through this process. 

  • How long does NYC housing lottery take?
    • The housing lottery process isn’t a fast one, especially with millions of applicants like yourself also looking to win affordable housing. It’s a process that can take months and lots of patience is needed. 
  • What are the odds of winning an affordable housing lottery NYC?
    • In 2018, the odds of winning an affordable apartment through the lottery were 1 in 592. While this may seem like bad odds, this is actually an improvement from 2016 where the odds were around 1 in 1,000. 
  • How many people apply for the housing lottery?
    • The amount of people applying for the lottery has been increasing every year. In 2016, about 2.5 million people applied and as of 2018, there were more than 4.6 million applicants.
  • How to win housing lottery NYC?
    • There is no guarantee you can win the housing lottery. Just as the name suggests, it’s a random lottery where people are randomly selected. The best thing you can do is to consistently look out for opportunities and apply for all the lotteries you are qualified for.
  • Tips for applying & rules you need to know:
    • Make sure you accurately complete your application. Don’t submit false or incomplete information as it can get you disqualified and possibly referred to the NYC Department of Investigation.
    • Continuously update your account information when things change, such as marital status or income.
    • Prepare for an interview beforehand by gathering all the needed paperwork. This includes ID’s, tax returns, proof of address, pay stubs, etc. 
    • Make sure to only submit one application per property. If you choose to submit multiple applications for any project, you may get disqualified.
    • Make sure to only create one one account per household. If security algorithms find multiple applications from one household, you may get disqualified.
    • Don’t contact HPD, HDC, or any development affiliates directly.
    • Apply for lotteries within your community board. Some housing lotteries have preference for those living within the same community board. You can increase your chances of winning by applying to those.
NYC Affordable Housing Lottery: How It Works
400 West 113 Street, #222 Morningside Heights, New York

NYC housing lottery interview process

After you apply for a housing lottery, you have to choose whether you wish to receive communications and updates through email or snail mail. If you choose snail mail, make sure you check your mailbox regularly. If you’re lucky to get selected for an interview, there are various paperwork you need to provide. It’s a good idea to prepare it beforehand and have multiple copies just in case.

If you have any questions about what documents you need, be sure to call before your interview appointment to clarify as if you don’t bring the needed documents, it will lead to disqualification. While you may be asked to provide more documentation, here a few thing should have ready:

  • Proof of ID for the entire household
  • Social Security card
  • Proof of employment
  • Bank statements
  • 4 to 6 of your recent pay stubs
  • 2 of your most recent tax returns
  • Paperwork on additional income (like investments or stocks)
  • Rent statements from current landlord to show your payments are up-to-date
How long does it take to hear back from NYC Housing Connect?
520 West 43 Street, #17D Hell’s Kitchen, New York

Apartment spaces you can get from the housing lottery

Many of the affordable housing apartments available for lottery are located in buildings with regular rental spaces. If you’re curious about the kind of apartments you can win through the lottery, you can easily look through buildings that participate or have participated in lotteries before. Here are just a few available apartments located in these buildings for you to check out:

Enclave at the Cathedral

400 West 113 Street Manhattan, New York, 10025

Apply for this lottery: NYC Housing Connect

Deadline: June 22, 2020

This Morningside Heights, Manhattan residential building is 15 stories high with 430 units and was built in 2018. It was built upon the ground of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, and the building’s architecture compliments the Cathedral’s design. Its building amenities include a laundry room, screening room, bike room, roof deck, game room, art gallery, and fitness center. According to Localize, while there aren’t any building complaints, there is a building violation filed in 2019 for roaches. The Enclave at the Cathedral is in a neighborhood with above average crime rate, but there is no construction nearby. Morningside Heights is also a family-friendly area as it’s close to universities, there are plenty of parks and playgrounds, and have access to campus activities such as swimming lessons and summer camps.

Available rental listings:

affordable condo lottery nyc
400 West 113 Street, #630 Morningside Heights, New York

Essex Crossing

242 Broome Street Manhattan, New York, 10002

Check out current housing lotteries: NYC Housing Connect

Essex Crossing Development on the Lower East Side is one residential building that participated in the affordable housing lottery. It provided studio, 1 bed, 2 beds, and 3 beds apartments for those who qualified. While this particular housing lottery has ended, there are plenty of active lotteries for you to check out. Additionally, there are two active rental listings in the building right now. Essex Crossing’s building amenities include a 24-hr doorman/concierge and building manager, fitness center with changing areas, entertainment lounge, flex space and billiards, and a beautifully landscaped rooftop terrace with outdoor dining. The neighborhood is also a vibrant arts and culture destination with over 100 galleries in the neighborhood and has plenty of dining and nightlife options.

Available rental listings:

NYC Housing Lottery Application
242 Broome Street, #9A Lower East Side, New York

The Landon

520 West 43 Street Manhattan, New York, 10036

Check out current housing lotteries: NYC Housing Connect

The Landon is a residential building that participated in the NYC affordable housing lottery. It provided 18 apartments for middle-income renters. The 18 apartments featured studio, 1 bedroom, and 2 bedroom apartments. While this particular lottery has ended, there are plenty of active housing lotteries for you to check out. Additionally, if you are interested in the building and its apartment spaces, there are six active rental listings available.

The Landon’s building amenities feature an attended lobby, indoor basketball court, member lounge, concierge services, sun terrace, fitness center, on-site garage, children’s playroom, and additional storage available. The neighborhood has plenty of dining and coffee shops, nightlife venues, shopping, and outdoor places. The Hudson River Park is also within walking distance.

Available rental listings:

low income housing brooklyn
520 West 43 Street, #3S Hell’s Kitchen, New York

The NYC affordable housing lottery is a great way to try and receive lower priced rental apartments for those looking to save on housing costs. We hope this article helped guide you through the process of applying for your dream low-cost apartment. Happy apartment hunting and best of luck!

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