Last year more people jammed units in NYC housing lotteries, but wait times increased

The city’s affordable housing lotteries are notoriously competitive, but new data shows some progress: In the most recent fiscal year ending in June, 6,173 applicants were approved for a unit through the lottery system, nearly 24 percent more than the fiscal year before. But the approval process took longer for applicants than the year before, and the odds remain difficult.

Adi Talwar

A Brooklyn apartment building with income-restricted units, handed out through the city’s housing lottery.

This story was produced by student reporters in the City Limits Accountability Reporting Initiative For Youth (CLARIFY).

33-year-old Gisele Santana is tired.

“I feel like I’m not being listened to,” said Santana, a single mother of two who works two jobs, of her search for an affordable apartment in New York City, where rents have reached record highs in recent months.

She’s not alone. Since 2014, the city’s affordable housing lotteries have received tens of millions of applications from New Yorkers seeking housing, but between then and the end of 2021, only more than 29,000 people moved into new or renovated affordable housing through the lottery system. show city data.

“I don’t believe in luck, I believe in my hard work,” Santana said of the difficult opportunities.

The city’s affordable housing lotteries are notoriously competitive, but the city’s latest mayoral report shows some signs of progress: In its most recent fiscal year ending in June, 6,173 applicants were approved for a unit through the lottery system, an increase of nearly 24 percent compared to the previous year. The number of homeless households moving into affordable apartments via lotteries also increased last year: more than 2,200, a record number of placements and up from 1,921 in fiscal year 2021, the city said.

The resurgence was because “more affordable units have been made in previous years and have recently been made available for occupancy”, Ministry of Conservation and Development of Housing (HPD), which runs the lottery, said in its summary of the data.

But the lottery approval process also took longer last year, with a median time of 177 days, or about six months, for affordable projects to select and approve move applicants, slightly more than the year before. Less than a third of applicants who scored lottery units were approved within six months, the data shows.

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