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Featuring real estate articles and information to help real estate buyers and sellers. The Nest features writings from Georges Benoliel and other real estate professionals. Georges is the Co-Founder of NestApple and has been working as an active real estate investor for over a decade.

How to Apply to Affordable Housing in NYC

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New York City is proud to be North America’s most significant public housing authority. First, it was created in 1935 to provide decent and affordable housing for low-and moderate-income New Yorkers. They exist in all five boroughs, and Affordable Housing is available to rent and buy. There are different requirements for each particular program. For instance, household size and family income must meet the criteria to qualify. The primary consideration is Family; all household members are considered. Let’s dig into Affordable Housing in NYC! How to find affordable housing in NYC? What is an affordable housing lottery?

Does my income qualify for NYC affordable housing?

In January 2023, the range goes from $28,800 for a single person to $255,420 for a household of six family members. Indeed, according to the New York City Housing Authority, a family is two or more persons related by blood, marriage, domestic partnership, adoption, guardianship, or court-awarded custody.

The federal government sets the Affordable housing income limits based on a percentage of the area median income (AMI).

Affordable Housing in NYC

What is affordable Housing in NYC?

The definition of Affordable Housing is when the apartments are part of the government’s affordable housing program. In fact. Housing becomes ‘affordable’ if it costs around one-third or less of what the people in the area usually earn. The housing department has a list of qualified dwellings: both coops and condos.One such example of an affordable housing program in NYC is the 421a tax abatement. This tax abatement offers tax benefits to developers in exchange for creating affordable housing units.Affordable housing units available via lottery in NYC qualify as rent-stabilized. This means tenants are afforded several protections, including limitations on annual rent increases and the right to renew with few exceptions.Affordable also broadly refers to units built with some form of government subsidy and limited to households making below certain income thresholds. The city’s public Housing is “affordable” since it receives federal grants.

Many city, state, and federal programs support Affordable Housing. Each program targets affordable units to a certain percentage of the so-called area median income or AMI.

How to apply for an NYC affordable housing lottery

First, before applying, you need to understand the size of your family household and identify your total annual household income. Indeed, in New York, the official platform is NYC Housing Connect. The first step is to create a profile. Remember to update your profile each time your income or household information changes.

The website hosts all available listings. Check often for new developments that fit your household. Application processing may take several months, and you should apply to multiple lotteries simultaneously.

Each lottery will have different eligibility requirements. It means you can qualify for some buildings but not for others with the same amount of family members and identical income. You can send applications online or via mail.

How you apply remains optional; however, the deadline is crucial. All affordable housing lotteries will have a specific date by which prospective buyers or tenants must submit all applications.

Unfortunately, you will only hear back if and when selected. Also, note that there is no guarantee you’ll get an apartment just because you got an interview and submit eligibility documentation.

If selected, confirm your eligibility, and provide documents to show you qualify for an apartment in the development. Be sure to respond immediately, as you’ll only have a few business days to submit any requested additional information. Assuming you got approved and matched to a specific unit, the final step is to sign a lease or complete the purchase. If found not eligible, you may submit an appeal.


The NYC Housing Authority remains the largest public housing authority in the country and is the housing agency managing the highest affordable housing options. After familiarizing yourself with the basics, follow the below tips to optimize your chances:

  1. First, submit as many applications as you can. The chances of getting selected are higher if you apply multiple times. Then, since applications are chosen randomly, you should target various properties simultaneously. Of course, do not submit multiple applications to the same development,
  2. Then. have your documentation ready in advance. Even though the opportunity of winning is low, get ready. Have all the paperwork up to date and in order.
  3. Never lie. Don’t submit false information or provide inaccurate information. 
  4. Lastly, focus on the listings where you currently reside. Local applicants take priority.

Written By: Nicole Benoliel

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