Tips and Guidance About NYC Apartment Lottery

By: Abdullah Haroon August 16, 2020

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Most of us share the dream of buying an apartment in New York. We discuss it with friends, spend hours talking on the computer, and pine for winning New York City’s housing lottery.  Or it could be that you might know someone who has won a coveted lottery.

Millions of people apply for each year for a limited number of units. You need to understand the lottery process so you would be well equipped before calculating your probability of winning.

We have compiled a complete guide to assist you in your campaign. Hopefully, these tips will increase your chances of winning.

  • Do you know about NYC Housing Connect?

NYC Housing Connect is a portal for applying to affordable housing lotteries. It is launched in June 2020 again. You may apply as new registration is open, currently. Housing lotteries are based on household size, income, and your rental budget.

According to Emily Osgood, assistant commissioner at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the new site is user friendly.

Besides being user friendly, there will be more lottery options on the new site than before, including both rental and homeownership opportunities.

Tip: Your previous registration will not be automatically updated to the new site. You may apply again to resume your services.

  • What Is Affordable Housing?

Affordable is a very relative term and means different to different people. As per the definition of HPD affordable housing as a unit is which costs approximately one-third of a resident’s income. Given the high rental prices in NYC, the lottery system is your best bet to afford to live convincingly in NYC.

1-Mitchell-Lama program:

In addition to the NYC Housing Connect, the Mitchell-Lama program is another lesser-known lottery system. It has a website. It is named after two senators and was aimed to facilitate middle-income families. It built approximately 135,000 affordable housing units over 23 years. HPD hopes to ultimately streamline the Mitchell-Lama units into the NYC Housing Connect platform in the future.

NYC’s inclusive Housing Program offers some affordable units, via housing lotteries in many new residential buildings.

2-Affordable Apartments for Purchase:  

Though there are not as many rentals, still several apartments for purchase in the lottery. They are offered under the umbrella of Housing Development Fund Corporation cooperatives, or HDFC co-ops.

In the ’70s, the government starting seizing and then fixing up abandoned and dilapidated buildings. And apartments were sold at a shocking price of $250. Do you wonder?

But there are certain requirements for these apartments, HDFCs has specific income requirements calculated by the area median income. In addition to it, they also have flip taxes and price caps on apartments. It means that you are supposed to pay when you sell, which can be up to a shocking 30% of the list price. You also have to pay a down payment as much as 10%.

They also bound you to sell within a predetermined range which does not make a convincing case from an investment point of view.

3-New York City Housing Authority:

New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), a completely separate agency from HPD. It caters to the responsibility of another important branch of the city’s affordable housing options. While NYC Housing Connect and the Mitchell Lama program run through private buildings monitored by the government, NYCHA buildings are public housing.

Bear it in mind that NYCHA has strict income limits, and the application process is not a lottery. Rather, applicants receive priority codes ranging from domestic violence victims to victims of felonies that affect their application status, with homeless families receiving the highest priority

  • How to up your game of winning the NYC Apartment Lottery:

The best tip anyone can offer you is to apply for as much as you can. Keep a good eye on the lotteries at the offer and apply to them.  Another pro tip is to get to know how many people are applying against a certain lottery as applicants can see how many people applied to the same building.

Due to a community preference clause in the policy, half of the available lottery units go to people who already reside in a neighborhood. Do not miss it if there is offered in your neighborhood.

  • Keep updating your info:

With life, there come many changes. You shall consider updating them on your NYC Housing Connect profile.  Once you update them, they will be updated instantaneously for every lottery you applied for

NYC Housing Connect provides the feature to apply to new units along with an indication that you are interested in every unit you’re eligible for. That way, you will be considered for re-rentals when they come. Keep checking that box to increase your chances of winning an affordable apartment.

  • Post-application process:

Once you apply to a particular NYC apartment lottery, it gets randomly assigned a number. As a rule, the lower the number, the better your odds. Once the date closed, HDP will vet them and it might take a long time since the process is slow. So don’t grow anxious if you don’t hear for a while.

If your number is picked and you are contacted, they will call you for an interview. The purpose is t verify the facts you have provided. Get your paperwork ready as there will be a very short time at your disposal.

Get the following documents ready:

  • Your pay stubs
  • Tax returns
  • Proof of address
  • Birth certificate
  • Additional asset documents.

You have to wait a bit after your interview and submission of documents. If you meet their income requirements, you will be accepted and your case will be sent to HPD and HDC. They will give the final verdict.

After your interview and submission of documents, you’ll probably wait a bit more. If you meet the income requirement and are accepted, the developer will pass your information onto HPD and HDC, who will give their final approval.

The bottom line:

So gather your documents and start applying for your dream apartment. But even if you don’t win, don’t lose hope and look for the upcoming opportunities.