Odds of winning an affordable housing lottery in NYC are better than you think

January 11, 2019

While applying for affordable housing lotteries in a city with millions of applicants seems daunting, paying below-market rent in New York City is enough of an incentive to persevere through the process. Especially since it’s not totally unattainable. The New York Times reported on Friday that in 2018, the odds of winning an affordable apartment through a lottery were 1 in 592. Those are actually better chances for those applying now rather than for applicants in 2016 when the odds were about 1,000 to 1.

The lotteries, which are run by the city’s Housing Preservation and Development and the Housing Development Corporation, set requirements for applicants, like income level and family size.

While a growing number of people apply every year for the affordable units (there were more than 4.6 million applicants in 2018, compared to just over 2.5 million two years ago), many are rejected out of the gate for not meeting income requirements or failing to present appropriate paperwork, increasing the chances for those eligible.

Since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office, the number of apartments made available through a housing lottery increased. Creating and preserving affordable housing has remained one of the mayor’s core goals and he has pledged to bring more than 300,000 units by 2026. According to the Times, there were 7,857 apartments awarded by lottery, compared with just 2,741 in 2012. De Blasio took office in 2014.

And finding lotteries has become easier. As 6sqft reported last year, the HPD released an interactive map of all the housing lotteries in the city currently accepting applications. Through the NYC Housing Connect site, users click on icons throughout the map to learn about a development’s income and household size requirements, as well as the application deadline.

But as a City Limits analysis published in 2017 found, the lotteries tend to favor middle-income applicants by setting more units aside for New Yorkers in that income bracket, rather than low-income residents.  Low-income households looking for affordable housing face tougher odds because there simply are fewer qualifying apartments available.

[Via NY Times]


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