HPD Commissioner Wambua, HDC President Jahr And Council Speaker Quinn Announce Official Launch Of City’s New Affordable Housing Lottery Website
New Yorkers Can Now Log On To www.nyc.gov/housingconnect And Apply To Five New Affordable Developments
NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, and NYC Housing Development Corporation President Marc Jahr today announced the official launch of NYC Housing Connect, the City’s affordable housing lottery website. NYC Housing Connect simplifies and eases the housing lottery process by allowing New Yorkers to fill out a single online application that can be saved and edited, which can be used to apply to multiple new housing lotteries. The site will accept applications for all of the City’s future affordable rental housing lotteries, and there are currently five new affordable housing developments in three boroughs accepting applications on the new website. The application period for a new development in the West Farms neighborhood of the Bronx began yesterday in advance of today’s official launch of NYC Housing Connect, and the first four developments were added within the past weeks as part of a “soft” launch in order to ensure that the new website could effortlessly handle and manage traffic from the public for multiple housing lotteries.
“Applying for affordable housing should be as simple as clicking a button,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “That’s why I’m thrilled New Yorkers can now learn about, and apply for, affordable housing online. NYC Housing Connect is an innovative step to make government more accessible and responsive to the needs of New Yorkers and I thank HPD for working with the City Council to bring this project to fruition.”
“This is a transformative moment in our City’s history of striving to provide those most in need with affordable, stable homes. NYC Housing Connect is a one-stop-shop that cuts through the repetition and burden of a paper application process that could take weeks to receive and submit, and streamlines it into one that is as easy as creating an online profile and clicking a mouse,” said HPD Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua. “The lottery system has always provided a fair and equitable way to distribute affordable housing, now NYC Housing Connect makes applying for it easier and faster. My thanks to Speaker Quinn for her partnership, HDC and DoITT for their assistance, and to the technology and marketing staffs at HPD who have worked tirelessly to make NYC Housing Connect a reality.”
”Thanks to the hard work, dedication, and determination of HDC and HPD staff and their counterparts at DoITT, NYC Housing Connect is up and running,” said HDC President Marc Jahr. “Marketing the thousands of apartments subsidized by the City of New York and built by our many development partners has always been a complex undertaking that demands fairness and unimpeachable integrity. Still, it was obvious that we needed to modernize and make the process more efficient, while ensuring that the essential qualities of fairness and integrity remained – and we have done exactly that. While achieving this was not as easy as pressing a button, I am pleased to say that now for New York City residents seeking affordable housing applying for multiple developments simultaneously is now just that simple. We are grateful to Speaker Quinn and Council Members Dilan and Cabrera for their support and encouragement.”
Speaker Quinn announced plans for the automation of the City’s housing lotteries in her 2011 State of the City address as a common sense solution to help simplify the affordable housing lottery application process. In the spring of 2012 the City successfully launched a pilot of the NYC Housing Connect site that drew more than 36,000 registrations. Following the pilot phase the system was updated to improve performance, navigation and to include a mapping function. The official launch for NYC Housing Connect had been planned for the fall of that year, but following Hurricane Sandy the website was converted to host the City’s online emergency housing portal allowing New Yorkers who had lost their homes to be matched with readily available apartments located throughout the City.
The City requires that subsidized apartments be rented through an open lottery system to ensure fair and equitable distribution of housing to eligible applicants. Since the 1980s, the City has relied on a manual, paper-based process for randomly selecting eligible tenants and homeowners for affordable units. Although the process includes strict controls to ensure the housing lottery process is fair and equitable, it can be time-consuming for the applicant. A person had to contact the respective property managers, community sponsors and/or real estate professionals directly to request an application, fill out those separate applications, and return them via mail for each affordable housing lottery to which they were interested in applying.
NYC Housing Connect provides a centralized, user-friendly online portal where applicants can apply to multiple projects with a single application as well as well as track the status of lotteries they apply to. It also gives applicants information on what steps they need to take to apply for affordable housing and what they can expect once they have submitted their application. On the site, applicants will be able to:
• Learn how to apply for affordable housing in New York City
• View current and upcoming housing opportunities from HPD and HDC
• Start, save, and complete an application for the household
• Apply to any current open lottery for which a household may qualify
“New York City Housing Connect brings the city's affordable housing application process up to speed with modern technology. I'm sure that NYC Housing Connect will be used as a tool by many New Yorkers to help them find and apply for some of the open lotteries of affordable housing in a simple and streamlined manner. I am sure it will be a great success," stated Council Member Erik Martin Dilan, the Chair of the City Council's Housing & Buildings Committee.
"In today's New York the search for affordable housing can be extremely difficult and frustrating, this new website will help to ease some of that burden,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera.
NYC Housing Connect currently has five new affordable housing developments posted that are accepting applications for their respective lotteries, including a new lottery Bronx site coming online today:
• Lebanon West Farms, a three-building development with locations at 1160 Lebanon Street, 1175 East Tremont Avenue and 1172 East Tremont Avenue in the West Farms neighborhood of the South Bronx just began the application process. Developed by Phipps Houses, the project will offer 140 new rental units to low-income households at 40% and 60% AMI, which is equivalent to an annual household income of not more than $34,360, and $51,540 respectively for a family of four.
• 525 West 28th Street Apartments, located in Chelsea is being developed by Avalon Bay and is currently accepting applications. The project will provide 142 new rental units for low-income households earning 40%, 50%, and 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI), which is equivalent to an annual household income of not more than $34,360, $42,950, and $51,540 respectively for a family of four. Applications are being accepted on NYC Housing Connect.
• 500 West 30th Street, located in Chelsea is being developed by the Related Companies and Abington Properties and is currently accepting applications. The project will provide a total of 386 new rental units, including 77 permanently affordable units created through the City’s Inclusionary Housing program which will be reserved for low-income households earning 40% and 50% AMI. Applications are being accepted on NYC Housing Connect for the 77 permanently affordable units
• Macedonia Plaza, located at 37-08 Union Street in Queens, is being developed by BRP Companies and is currently accepting applications. The project will add 142 new rental units to the Flushing community. The apartments will be available to low-income households earning 40% and 60% AMI. Applications are being accepted on NYC Housing Connect.
• Maple Mesa is comprised of two buildings; one located at 601 East 163rd Street and the other at 232 East 169th Street, in the Morrisania and Concourse neighborhoods of the South Bronx, and is currently accepting applications. Developed by Cypress 4 LLC, the project is offering 45 new rental units to low-income households earning 50% and 60% AMI. Applications are being accepted on NYC Housing Connect.
Applicants to any particular housing lottery are not guaranteed to receive housing. The household must be selected at random, and must be income-qualified based on a host of detailed criteria. Whether via paper application (which will still be available), or through NYC Housing Connect, the City’s lottery process ensures that all applicant households are carefully screened for eligibility and that housing is allocated based on criteria contractually defined prior to the start of the lottery. Paper applications submitted via mail will be entered into the NYC Housing Connect system with the applications submitted online. All drawings are done at random.
At least 60 days prior to the lottery, a public solicitation for applications is made by placing advertisements in local newspapers, posting information about the opportunity on citywide websites, and listing information as part of an automated toll-free affordable housing hotline. All registrants to NYC Housing Connect will receive an email to notify them of new affordable rental projects. Interested households complete a standardized application on NYC Housing Connect or via paper application, with deadlines set approximately one week prior to the lottery.
Each housing development site goes through a five-stage process that results in the allocation of housing to income-eligible households:
• Project approval: agency approval of the project and development of a marketing plan;
• Lottery Drawing: the random drawing of applications to determine the queue for housing;
• Eligibility Screening: a two-stage screening that documents eligibility for housing;
• Household-to-unit Matching: sorting of eligible households into available unit types resulting in;
• Offer of Housing: the allocation of housing to qualified, eligible households in the order as determined by the lottery
About the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD):
HPD is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers through education, outreach, loan and development programs and enforcement of housing quality standards. It is responsible for implementing Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to finance the construction or preservation of 165,000 units of affordable housing by the end of fiscal year 2014. Since the plan’s inception, more than 157,320 affordable homes have been created or preserved. For regular updates on news and services, connect with us via www.facebook.com/nychpd and www.twitter.com/nychousing. For more information, visit our website at www.nyc.gov/hpd.
About the NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC):
Since 2000, HDC has issued roughly 10% of all the multi-family housing revenue bonds in the U.S. and since 2003, when Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan was launched, HDC has raised more than $6.7 billion in financing for affordable housing developments, including providing in excess of $1 billion in subsidy from corporate reserves. In Affordable Housing Finance magazine’s annual listing of the nation’s top ten funders of multifamily housing, HDC is the only municipal entity on the list. In 2013, HDC was the third largest affordable housing lender in the U.S. after Citi and Wells Fargo, beating out Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Capital One. To date, under the Mayor’s plan, HDC has financed the creation or preservation of more than 73,765 of the total 157,320 affordable units. Multifamily buildings financed by HDC contain more than 1.7 million square feet of commercial space. For additional information, visit: www.nychdc.com