The odds you’ll score an affordable apartment through one of the city’s housing lotteries is about 1,000 to 1–that is, unless you’re young and single. Through a FOIL request, DNAinfo obtained data from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development that showed more than half of the 1,470 units that became available through the 48 lotteries that opened from January 2013 to December 2015 were for studios and one-bedrooms; 41 percent of those chosen in these lotteries were ages 25 through 34, and 50 percent were single.
Additionally, 36 percent of these winners were Hispanic; 27 were black. But only four percent were 62 or older and 11 percent under 25.
If you’re wondering how the results can be skewed in what’s supposed to be a random lottery, the answer may come down to the interview. After an applicant is drawn from the pool, he or she is invited in to meet with someone from HPD. But according to those who have gone through the process, it’s more about numbers and forms than a conversation: “No person asked me questions. I had to fill out a lot of forms. … It’s all about financials. If you’re 5 cents off in the numbers that they need, then you’re out because so many people are looking for affordable housing,” said Catherine Schmitz, a 48-year-old single mother from Greenpoint who applied to open lotteries for a year before being selected. Plus, some developers have the right to set a minimum credit score for affordable housing residents, and there’s the fact that older people are not as digitally savvy and the lotteries become available online through the city’s Housing Connect portal.
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