Renter's Guide

Finding Affordable Housing

Table of Contents

Finding Affordable Housing

Affordable housing can be found in New York, but it won’t be particularly easy. There are a few ways to find affordable housing, depending on your income, which we’ll lay out in this section.

New York has some good policies in place to help house low-income families and individuals and to help them maintain their residencies. There are a few different ways to approach housing, and a few different kinds of buildings, plans, vouchers, or deals you can look at.

Public Housing

NYCHA (The New York city Housing Authority) operates close to 200,000 public housing apartments in the city. Tenants in public housing apartments pay 30 percent of their income to rent and they must earn less than the income limit and meet some other criteria to qualify. The waiting period can be long, especially for those not in the “priority” category. Preference goes to those employed and that are in a high need category. It’s been said that the wait time for those not in a priority category is nine years. In order to stay on the waiting list, perspective tenants must reapply to open apartments throughout the waiting process.

You can find more detailed instructions to apply for public housing here:

Section 8

The Section 8 program is a national rental housing assistance program in the United States. It works similarly to the public housing one in that it allows tenants to live in apartments and pay only 30 percent of their income to rent. The section 8 voucher pays the difference. So if you live in an apartment with a rent of $1,000 and you make $30,000 a year, you would be responsible for paying $9,000 a year or $750 a month and the voucher would make up the rest.

NYCHA administers about 100,000 of these vouchers and the program’s funding is getting overhauled. President Obama has proposed serious changes to the way Section 8 vouchers work to help low-income families live in more prominent neighborhoods. Keep an ear out for changes on this in the coming months. Check to see if you qualify for Section 8 vouchers here:

New Affordable Housing Options

There are new affordable housing options for the city that are often financed with Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs) or are part of market-rate developments in programs like the 80/20 Program.

Prospective tenants must apply to these apartments separately as they become available. Different buildings have different income requirements and different prices for units. There is no central waiting list. The rent increases follow the same guidelines as rent-stabilized apartments would.

The 80/20 program is essentially a tax break for developers. HFA offers tax-exempt financing to rental developments and in exchange the developers save 20% of their units to be for low-income residents.

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