How to Apply for Affordable Housing in New York City

New York City is notorious for its high cost of living, with the average monthly rent reaching $1,632, according to a recent report by Consumer Affairs. In an effort to alleviate the burden of housing costs for low and middle-income residents, the city has implemented various measures, including affordable housing lotteries through the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC), among others.

Understanding Affordable Housing in New York City

Affordable housing is determined based on a percentage of the area’s average median income (AMI), which is annually set by the federal government. To be considered affordable, the cost of rent must be equal to or lower than 30% of a household’s income, and it is subject to regulation to prevent significant rent increases.

Eligibility Criteria

To apply for affordable housing in New York City, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a household income that falls below the required limits for the specific affordable housing project being applied for.
  • Meet other criteria, including asset limits and tenant selection criteria.
  • Certain priorities are given to individuals with disabilities, seniors, or those currently residing within a Community Board that offers affordable housing.

Can Undocumented Immigrants Apply for Affordable Housing?

Yes, undocumented immigrants can apply for affordable housing in New York City. In 2019, the city simplified the application process, eliminating the requirement for a Social Security number or Tax ID for each adult in the household. Instead, applicants can provide 12 months of rent payment receipts to avoid credit checks. These changes have made affordable housing lotteries accessible to undocumented immigrants.

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Area Median Income (AMI) and Affordable Monthly Rent in NYC

The tables below provide references to the AMI for 2023 and the affordable monthly rent in New York City:

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How to Apply for Affordable Housing

If your income falls within the specified range mentioned in the tables, you can visit the “NYC Housing Connect” lottery website to search for affordable housing opportunities that meet your criteria. You will need to create an account, submit the necessary materials, wait for the lottery results, and prepare for an interview if selected. Rest assured that your information is secure and will not be shared with immigration agencies.


While landlords cannot disqualify your application solely based on your credit score, they may check your credit history. It is important to ensure the accuracy of the information in your credit report. You can obtain a free credit report from Landlords may also want to review your housing court records, which can be found and printed at public computers in housing courts. Additionally, make sure to save at least two months’ worth of rent to cover the first month’s rent and security deposit.


Visit to create a profile for your account, which includes personal income information. On this page, you can “search” for available housing and complete the application form. Alternatively, you can submit a written application by mail to the appropriate department of the agency. Remember, submitting multiple applications may result in disqualification, so only submit one application, either online or in writing.

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If your application is selected, you will receive a letter or email explaining how to schedule a pre-screening interview. All individuals over the age of 18 who intend to live in the apartment must attend the interview. This interview is crucial, as the housing agent will determine your eligibility to apply for the apartment. Make sure to have all the necessary materials, such as proof of identity, income information, etc., as well as information about your current employment.

After the Interview

After the interview, you may be approved for housing, placed on a waiting list, or rejected. If you receive a rejection letter, you have the option to appeal. For more information, refer to the provided guide.

By following these steps, you can navigate the process of applying for affordable housing in New York City and potentially secure a home that suits your needs and budget.

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