City updates housing lottery policy to ease process for immigrants and low-income New Yorkers

Posted On Wed, August 21, 2019 By

Posted On Wed, August 21, 2019 By In affordable housing, housing lotteries, Policy

Via Creative Commons

New Yorkers applying for affordable housing no longer need to provide credit scores or social security numbers, making it easier for low-income and undocumented immigrant households to qualify, the city announced Wednesday. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development expanded the guidelines of its affordable housing lottery policy to allow applicants to show 12 months of positive rental history instead of a credit check run by a landlord. This erases the need for adult household members to provide a social security number or an individual tax identification number.

“For too long, families without access to credit have faced barriers to the affordable housing they need,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press release. “By allowing New Yorkers to submit rental history instead of credit checks, we are creating a fair system for all New Yorkers.”

The new guidelines are meant to promote racial equity in the city’s housing, as well as make it easier for undocumented immigrants to apply for affordable housing. Ana Nuñez, who works for the nonprofit Churches United for Fair Housing, told NY1 that the changes eliminate a “huge barrier” for immigrants, who may not have a tax ID number.

“It completely opens the flood gates,” Nuñez said. “So now this is truly, truly a sanctuary city.”

The guidelines also increase the permitted number of residents per unit to widen the range of unit sizes households can qualify. According to the city, this change improves the choices for applicants and lowers costs by allowing more flexible arrangements.

“These new changes are a step towards promoting greater racial equity in our housing market and greater access to affordable housing, regardless of immigration status,” Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner for the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, said in a press release.

Last year, the HPD and the Housing Development Corporation changed the guidelines to provide access for low-income residents and survivors of domestic abuse. The updates fall under the city’s efforts to reduce residential segregation. A report released last month found that the housing lotteries exacerbate racial disparities, with people of color facing disadvantages when applying for affordable apartments with the city.

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