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Resources for Affordable Housing in NYC
The various federal, state and local rules and departments governing non-market housing in New York City can be a difficult maze to navigate: there are some support and advocacy organizations at the bottom of the page that may be able to help you chart your path through the NYC housing universe. Remember you can also visit the information desk at your local library branch for help looking for housing information or applications.
- In New York City, "affordable housing" is defined as developments built with city money with below-market rents.
- Apartments are made available to applicants who qualify via lottery. The administrating body is HPD: The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. A description of the lottery system.
- The lotteries for subsidized housing units in private buildings—many of which are a mix of market-rate and affordable rents—are advertised in community newspapers. In the case of new buildings, a construction site sign will be posted with the management company’s contact information.
Some listings can also be found on the New York City Housing Development Corporation site, and the NYC HPD site.
- The management company for the building in question provides the applications.
- The New York City Housing Development Corporation offers information on the application process.
- A description of affordable housing geared to middle-income New Yorkers and the application process can also be found in this 2008 New York Times article.
Mitchell-Lama is a form of subsidized housing aimed at middle-income people, built in the 1950s-1970s, throughout the state of New York. This category of housing is not being built anymore. Mitchell-Lama buildings are buildings rather than units. Some are rentals and some are co-ops. The rent tends to be lower than market rate but is generally not low enough for low-income New Yorkers. Rent and fees in Mitchell-Lama buildings are tied to the cost of running the building. Building owners receive tax abatements for as long as they remain in the program. Landlords can withdraw from Mitchell-Lama by paying off the mortgage: depending on the age of the building, it may then switch to rent-stabilized or market-rate rents.
- Information about Mitchell-Lama housing and a link to the list of buildings with open waiting lists
- Public housing buildings, sometimes referred to as "the projects," are administered in NYC by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).
- The two categories of applicants considered for public housing are referred to as the working families preference and the needs-based preference. The needs-based group includes domestic violence survivors, people who are homeless, crime victims, and other special categories. This means there are two different waiting lists for public housing, though some families qualify to be on both at once.
- NYCHA’s Guide to Applying for Public Housing
- Application for public housing
- How to apply for public housing if you or a family member have a criminal record, from the Legal Action Center.
- If your application for public housing is denied, assistance in filing an appeal may be available from the Legal Aid Society or the Legal Action Center
Rent Controlled & Rent Stabilized Housing
Information from the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal
- What is the difference between rent stabilized and rent controlled apartments? Rent control applies generally to buildings constructed before 1947. Rent stabilization generally covers buildings built after 1947 and before 1974, and apartments removed from rent control. It also covers buildings that receive J-51 and 421-a tax benefits.
- Find more information on rent control from the Metropolitan Council on Housing
- Information on rent stabilization from the Metropolitan Council on Housing
- Section 8 vouchers are sometimes just known as “vouchers” or as “housing choice vouchers.”
- Section 8 is funded through the federal government and run by federal regulations, but is administered locally by the City of New York. This means NYCHA pays part of the rent each month directly to the landlord for an eligible family who have been issued a voucher, in accordance with regulations of the The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The housing choice vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies: in our case the New York City Housing Authority.
- Because Section 8 isn’t considered an entitlement benefit, applicants face competition for eligibility and won’t necessarily receive the vouchers even if they qualify. At the moment NYCHA is not giving out any Section 8 vouchers: stating on their website "As of December 10, 2009, NYCHA is no longer processing any new Section 8 applications.”
- Between 2007 and 2009 the Section 8 vouchers being accepted were only from intimidated witnesses (accepted through the District Attorney’s Office) and foster care cases (referred by the NYC Administration for Children's Services (ACS)) as well as domestic violence survivors. Domestic violence survivors were the only people who could submit their own application, with documentation.
- The application process: eligibility is determined through the government, but finding available apartments is up to the individual, applying to each building separately.
- There is a waiting list for all Section 8 buildings in New York City, but some are long and some are short. You call the management company of the building you are interested in, and they will tell you.
- On the HUD website is the list of all of the properties accepting Section 8 vouchers. Search for buildings by State, City, Zip Code, and/or specific building.
- The New York City Housing Authority also compiles lists of available apartments, including contact information. Contact each building management company to determine what the waiting list is like and how to put your name on it.
- NYCHA has a Customer Contact Center at 718-707-7771 with which applicants can check the status of their application. 8 AM – 5PM, Monday through Friday.
- More information about what Section 8 is and who qualifies can be found on the NYCHA and HUD websites as well as Howstuffworks.com
- How to apply for Section 8 housing if you have a criminal record, from the Legal Action Center.
- Defined as permanent housing linked to services, supportive housing aims to enable New Yorkers to live on their own (as opposed to in institutions) with the medical or social services they require available on-site.
- Information on New York City’s HIV/AIDS Services Administration housing (a.k.a. HASA Housing) is available from the Metropolitan Council on Housing
- The Supportive Housing Network for New York can also provide information about types of supportive housing and eligibility.
VASH (Veterans Administration Supported Housing)
- Also called “HUD-VASH”
- Gives out a certain number of Section 8 vouchers to eligible homeless and otherwise vulnerable US armed forces veterans
- The Met Council on Housing Offers a hotline for questions about tenants’ rights and responsibilities: call 212-979-0611 on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Their website includes a collection of fact sheets on common tenant concerns.
- From the Legal Aid Society of New York:
Pamphlet: What Tenants Need to Know About Being Evicted
Pamphlet: What Tenants Need to Know When the Owner Faces Foreclosure
- The Partnership For The Homeless offers assistance to tenants at risk of losing their housing.
- The Center for Urban Community Services also offers help to those who are in danger of losing their homes.