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A Guide to the NYC Housing Lottery (and how to increase your chances of acceptance)


As no surprise to New Yorkers, housing prices in NYC are out of reach for many lower income residents. In an effort to provide a fair chance at affordable housing for New Yorkers, the city works with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and real estate groups throughout the city to make affordable housing available to those who “win” various housing lotteries. Fortunately the process for all the various lotteries now takes place through one platform, known as NYC Housing Connect, making it easier to apply.

Affordable housing as defined by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) simply means a monthly rent costing no more than 30% of the individual’s income. These prices are found using your area median income (AMI). In other words, half of the people in your geographical location earn above this income while the other half earn below that number. 

The NYC housing lottery will calculate your rent based on your area median income (AMI) and your own personal income. The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development have come up with a calculated chart of AMI according to family size which can be seen below.



The NYC housing lottery sounds like an opportunity many New Yorkers would like to be involved with, and while that may be true it’s a very lengthy process and is not easy to get accepted. In fact the chances of winning the NYC housing lottery are only 1 in 592. NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio says that 300,000 affordable apartments will be made available for the housing lottery by 2026. Of course with the increase in affordable housing units, applications will also increase. Following is a guide to the application process:

How to apply: Applications for the NYC housing lottery are done through NYC Housing Connect. First you will need to create an account using your name and email address. When filling out your application, you’ll be asked for information regarding your employment and income as well as others in your household. It’s extremely important to ensure all entered information is correct, as incorrect information in your application can get you disqualified. After submitting your application you’ll be able to track its progress. Be aware that the application process is a lengthy one. Applications can expect to wait several months before hearing the decision of their application.

After you apply: Your application will be assigned a number at random. The HPD will go through the numbers started from the lowest numbers and working their way upwards. This means getting a lower number can mean hearing back about your application sooner than if your application were assigned a higher number. To increase your chances of being selected for the housing lottery, you may apply to different housing programs. Although it’s important to note that applying to the same housing lottery more than once will get you disqualified as the HPD can weed out duplicate applications.

If the NYC apartment lottery contacts you: If you are contacted by email or phone for an interview, congratulations. You have been selected as a potential winner. You may be asked to provide additional documents verifying your income level as well as other household information. These documents can include pay stubs or tax return documents, among others. If the interviewer determines that you’re still eligible, they will send your information on to the HPD, who will make the final determination whether you are indeed a lottery winner. Only after official approval from the HPD can you begin to sign any paperwork to move into your new apartment.

If you’re selected and officially approved in a NYC housing lottery, you are among the rare group of applicants who have beaten the odds. If your application is not selected, however, you may apply again and again. To increase your chances of getting approved, it’s important to ensure correct information and documentation each time you apply as well as applying as often as you can to different housing lotteries as this will increase your chances of being selected.


For more information on renting, buying and selling apartments in New York City, contact us today at (646) 202-1877.

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