Everything You Need to Know About NYC’s Affordable Housing Lottery

One of the best ways to find a rent-stabilized apartment in New York City is through NYC Housing Connect — also known as the affordable housing lottery. These units are for low-income tenants, and rent is well below market rate. Monthly payments are also protected from the huge annual increases that are so common in traditional settings.

But, like most amazing programs, the housing lottery can be challenging to get into. Follow the steps below for your best shot at this incredible opportunity:

#1: Find Out If Your Qualify

When you’re figuring out if you qualify for the affordable housing lottery, you’ll consider two factors — annual income and household size. Each apartment will have its own percentage of the Area Median Income as its requirement (you can find your percentage here).

If you’re close but not quite qualified for the first few listings you find, don’t give up. The AMI qualifications vary, and while some are as low as 60%, others may be around 130%.

Sometimes being older than 62 or having a disability can also help you snag a spot in these coveted rentals

#2: Create Your Online Profile

If you think you’re eligible or close to it, it’s time to create your online profile. You will enter information about your income, family size, and any relevant disabilities. As rentals become available, your application will be considered.

#3: Apply, Apply, Apply

Your application will automatically apply you for re-rentals and resales, and you’ll be notified if your application is chosen. However, the bulk of opportunities require you to submit an application.

You can visit the Open Lotteries page to keep up with opportunities. Most open applications are up for a few weeks to a few months, and you’ll want to apply during that time. If applying online is difficult, you can send in your information by mail — you just can’t apply both ways for the same unit.

#4: Provide Paperwork

If your number is chosen, you’ll be informed and asked to submit relevant paperwork. The lower the number, the better chance you have at being selected to live in the apartment.

You’ll need to submit pay stubs, federal or state tax returns, a copy of your current lease, and copies of recent utility bills in your name and address.

You may also need to submit a photo ID, birth certificate, and social security card. If you don’t have these at home, it can be better to replace them right away, in case you need them for a rental application later on.

Not many other items will need to be submitted. Housing Connect is not allowed to ask for information on debt-to-income ratios, credit scores, housing court cases, or landlord references.

However, you will undergo a credit check and you may be disqualified if you’ve filed bankruptcy in the last year or have more than $5000 debt in collections.

#5: Sign Your New Lease

You will need to have about 2 months of rent saved up when you sign your lease, so it’s good to start putting aside cash as soon as you can. Part of this will be your first month’s rent, and the rest will be your security deposit (which is capped at one month’s rent), and both are paid when you sign.

Since the timing is tricky, you may need to find someone to fill your place at your old rental. Your landlord is required to help in this process, but finding a new rental while you still have an old lease is still a bit of a risk.

But the benefits of housing lottery apartments are well worth this trouble! After you sign, you’ll be protected from automatic lease renewal and more!

If you’re ready to find one of these incredible opportunities, or if you need help finding another affordable place to rent, feel free to contact our team. We’re experienced in all things Brooklyn real estate, and we’re ready to help out however we can.

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