NYC Affordable Housing Lotteries 101

the openigloo team

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

Housing lottery

New York City is expensive and apartments are scarce. The city is consistently fighting to make sure enough apartments are being built to keep up with a growing population. The affordable housing lottery is a program aimed to help renters secure affordable housing within the 5 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 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. All apartments in the lottery are rent-stabilized; meaning tenants are entitled to a renewal and the rent can only go up 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 their own restrictions 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 130% of the Area Median Income (AMI). If your household has 3 people and together you make between $94,972-$156,130 per year, then you are eligible for that apartment. If you were selected, 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 residents. Some buildings may also have more specific community preferences, where they need to fill a percentage of the units with families from a specific neighborhood.

4. How long will it take to be selected?

There is no telling how long it may take to be selected for an apartment. We have heard from renters who were able to secure an apartment within a few months, while others waited years before getting a call. Advice we’ve heard from renters who have been successful is to be patient and persistent; 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.

Submit an anonymous review about your current or previous building on the openigloo, and help a future renter with their apartment search.