How to Apply for a NYC Affordable Housing Lottery

Affordable housing opportunities are available throughout all five boroughs of NYC. These programs are designed for lower and middle income individuals, but the income limits can be surprisingly high for certain lotteries.  Affordable housing opportunities in NYC include both rental listings and apartments for sale. Eligibility is based on your household size and income.

Qualifying income limits range from as low as $28,020 for a single person household up to $255,420 for a household of six. Each affordable housing development has different requirements. 

Click on the sections below to learn more about affordable housing in NYC, including how to search for opportunities, how to apply and tips for increasing your chances of winning the lottery.

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What is affordable housing in NYC?

Affordable housing in NYC consists of apartments that are part of government affordable housing programs. This means they’re subsidized by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and Housing Development Corporation (HDC).

One such example of affordable housing program in NYC is the 421a tax abatement. This tax abatement offers tax benefits to developers in exchange for the creation of affordable housing units.

Affordable housing units available via lottery in NYC are typically rent stabilized. This means that tenants are afforded with several protections including limitations on annual rent increases and the right to renew with few exceptions.

Housing is typically considered ‘affordable’ if it costs around one-third or less of what the people in the area usually earn. In other words, no more than one-third of your monthly income goes towards housing. Household size is a determinant when it comes to income limits for affordable housing in NYC.

Does my income qualify for NYC affordable housing?

Qualifying income limits for NYC affordable housing opportunities range from as low as $28,020 for a single person household up to $255,420 for a household of six. Income limits vary by development.

Affordable housing income limits are based on a percentage of the area median income (AMI), which is set by the federal government. Refer to this chart to view the all eligible income limits by household size.

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How to apply for a NYC affordable housing lottery

Browse Listings

The first step in applying for a NYC affordable housing lottery is to find available listings by browsing NYC Housing Connect. This website displays new affordable housing developments as well as existing affordable housing units which are available at turnover.

Each listing will show the total number of available apartments, allowable household sizes, the required income range as well as the application deadline.

Check Eligibility

As you browse listings, keep in mind that each affordable housing development has different eligibility requirements based on household size and income.

Prior to apply, make sure that you qualify:

  • Does your household size qualify?

  • Is your income between the development’s low and high income limits?

Also, be sure to check whether the development you’re considering has special requirements. 

Examples include:

  • You have a mobility, hearing, and/or vision disability

  • You live in the five boroughs of NYC

  • You live in the same Community District as the development

  • You work for the City of New York

Submit Your Application

To apply, start by creating an account on NYC Housing Connect. Note that once you apply, developers will see your profile in real time, so be sure to update your profile any time your household situation or income changes.

Alternatively, you can apply through the mail by following the instructions on the advertisement to request a paper application by mail.

Note that your chances of being selected are the same whether you apply online via NYC Housing Connect or by mail. Nor is there any advantage by applying earlier. Just make sure your application is submitted before the deadline.

NYC affordable housing lotteries are available for qualifying households with incomes up to $255,420. Learn how to apply.

Wait to Hear Back

After the deadline, all applications are randomly ordered and each is assigned a log number. The developer reviews the lowest log numbers first, starting with those who meet preference categories.

It typically takes between two to twelve months after the deadline to hear back. Keep in mind that there is no guarantee you’ll receive a response. Your odds of being contacted are higher if you are assigned a low log number or if you qualify for a preference.

Since the order of review is completely random, you’ll increase your odds of landing an affordable unit by applying for as many lotteries as you qualify for.

Compete and Interview and Submit Additional Information

If you’re fortunate enough to hear back, the developer will invite you for an interview. You’ll be asked to submit additional documentation to confirm that you’re eligible. Be sure to respond immediately, as you’ll only have a few business days to submit the requested information.

Note that there is no guarantee you’ll be offered an apartment just because you’re asked to interview and submit eligibility documentation.

If you applied online, you can upload the requested documentation directly into NYC Housing Connect. Paper applicants will need to mail their documentation or deliver it to the developer.

Once the developer has verified your eligibility, HDC (The New York City Housing Development Corporation) or HPD (New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development) will review your file for accuracy.

Sign a Lease

Provided you’re deemed eligible, you may be offered the opportunity to sign a lease or proceed with a purchase. 

If you’re found not eligible, you may submit an appeal. If you are not satisfied with the developer’s response, you can send a complaint to HPD or HDC.

What documentation is required to apply for a NYC housing lottery?

If you’re selected for an interview, you’ll have to provide verification of your household size, income as well as your current living situation:

Household (who will live with you?):

  • Birth certificates

  • Social Security cards

  • Picture IDs

  • Enrollment verification letters for everyone attending school

Income (for all members of the household):

  • Pay stubs

  • W-2 and tax returns

  • Proof of Social Security, veteran, or public assistance benefits income

  • Bank statements that support deposits

Information about your current apartment:

  • Copy of current lease

  • Rent receipts

  • Recent gas or electric bills

Refer to this guide for the full list of required documentation.

NYC affordable housing lottery tips

Tip 1

Submit as many applications as you can. Given the randomly selected order in which applications are reviewed, securing an affordable apartment is ultimately a numbers game. You’ll increase your odds significantly by applying to as many developments as you’re eligible for. Do not apply for developments which you’re not eligible for.

Tip 2

Have your supporting documentation ready in advance. There’s no way to predict when you’ll be contacted, and if a developer does reach out, you won’t have much time to get your ducks in a row.

Tip 3

Do not submit multiple applications to the same development, and do not submit false or incomplete information.

Tip 4

Focus on listings in the Community District where you currently reside. Local applications often take priority.

Disclosure: Hauseit® and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. No representation, guarantee or warranty of any kind is made regarding the completeness or accuracy of information provided.

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