How to apply for the NYC housing lottery?

Living in New York City sounds exciting and fun and it sure is! However, there are quite a few things a New Yorker has to worry about. One of the most important and problematic ones is housing and its rent. Finding an affordable apartment in NYC with Best Movers NY could save you a lot of stress and money. However, this is not the easiest task. That’s why NYC lawmakers are working on or creating affordable housing considering the huge demand. Keeping in mind that the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in NYC has reached $2,980, the NYC housing lottery is the most straightforward way people can secure their housing. We will focus on what it means, how you can apply for the NYC housing lottery, and what you need to do after applying for it.

What is the NYC housing lottery?

The NYC housing lottery allows for people making a wide range of incomes to apply and possibly win affordable co-ops and apartments in NYC. Programs such as this one are created to give developers lower-cost loans and tax breaks if they provide a certain number of apartments (units) for affordable housing in newly renovated or completely new properties.

Queens neighborhood in NYC
The NYC housing lottery offers plenty of developments in many cozy neighborhoods around the city.

The good thing about apartments in these buildings is that rent can be increased only by a certain percentage, and landlords are not allowed to “go crazy” on prices. Therefore, your rent is stabilized. For example, if you have a one-year lease, the New York City Rent Guidelines Board (NYCRGB) allows the rent increase to only up to 1.5%.

There are several developments participating in each NYC housing lottery, you should not go or just any housing complex when applying. Many applicants are just so eager to “win” the lottery that they don’t research to make sure what is best for their family and them. It’s good to know the difference between apartments and houses in NYC before moving forward with your application.

Do you qualify for the NYC housing lottery?

Before you can start your application online, you need to check if you qualify. If you do qualify, you will fill out an online application, apply for apartments, start going through the selection process and hopefully sign your lease at the end. A common misconception is that this program benefits only the poor class. However, this lottery aims to provide affordable housing for the so-called middle class.

But how do you know if you qualify based on your earnings? Something you will need to know is your AMI which is the median income in the area. The current AMI in the NYC area for a three-person family is $107,400. Different apartment buildings have different AMI requirements when it comes to applying for the NYC housing lottery.

For example, some apartments will be available for families earning 60% of the AMI while others will require 130% of the AMI. You will have to make sure the one you are applying for matches your median income. Sometimes you will have to make sure the apartment you are applying for allows for people your age to apply. Some buildings are reserved only for senior citizens. In this case, you will not be considered if you are younger than 62, so better research before selecting a certain apartment building.

Different types of families apply for the lottery each year, make sure you know how well your family qualifies. Regardless of you possibly being a single parent in NYC, or having a disabled or elderly family member, it’s important to research what would the best location for you be depending on these factors. These are just a few basic requirements that you need to have in mind when applying. Make sure you check all the requirements before starting your application for the NYC housing lottery.

How to apply for the NYC housing lottery online?

The first thing you have to do when applying for the NYC housing lottery is register at NYC Housing Connect. Once you’ve done that, you will have to provide information about everyone in your household. This includes (but is not limited to) your incomes, assets, and disability status, if applicable.

You can choose which development you want to apply for. And you can apply for re-rentals as well. This means that you can be selected for apartments that are now vacant due to previous tenants leaving.
It’s important to remember that you need to update your information if it changes at any point during your application. This can be done during or after the application, but it must be done if any details about you or your household members have changed.

Woman using her laptop to research hot to apply for the NYC housing lottery
Once you know how to apply for the NYC housing lottery online, make sure you do it on time.

NYC Housing Connect provides you with all the needed information about the process. You will be able to check which apartments you are eligible for by checking the open lotteries page. There is a deadline for applying, so make sure you organize your time around it. It can vary from a few weeks to a few months. As long as you apply before the deadline, it doesn’t matter when you do it. 

While you are applying for the NYC housing lottery online, it would be good to do some research about the NYC housing market as well. You will be making a move from a different city or part of the city so you should know the market situation before making the move.

Getting an answer and signing the lease

Now that you have applied, you will be given a log number and your application will be randomized. Once the application deadline is over, developments will start reviewing applications. They will do this starting with the lowest log number. A little tip, you are more likely to hear from a developer if your log number is low. Considering all your paperwork is good and your application is ready, now you wait! How long? According to guidelines, you will wait between two and ten months after the applications are closed. Unfortunately, it’s possible not to hear back at all. Think of a plan B in case you are not selected!

Even though this is a lottery, some factors might help developers select preferential applicants. If your family includes disabled individuals, residents that are currently within the development’s community board district, or municipal employees, your chances might be better. As a part of your application, you will need to sign a lease. It’s probably a good idea to start saving for this in advance. You should save enough for the first month’s rent and deposit. If you need help with your finances and planning this out, you can get free financial counseling.

NYC buildings and view
NYC offers a variety of different buildings and views.

Finishing up and making sure you stay informed

If you have made your checklist, you might want to add some important points to it, if you haven’t yet. If you like to plan ahead and you’re optimistic, you already want to plan your move. In case you’re an NYC resident, this move will not be too hard for you but it still needs a lot of planning. You will want an affordable local move so make sure you check the movers in your area!

Applying for the NYC housing lottery can be stressful, but with your checklist and good time management, you have nothing to worry about! Make sure you have your credit score and details in line and hope for the best.

Now that you know how to apply for the NYC housing lottery, all you have to do is finish the application on time. When you are selected, it will all be worth it! We are crossing our fingers and wishing you good luck.


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