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City makes its affordable housing guidelines more tenant-friendly

The mayor has revised the existing affordable housing lottery system

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a revised set of guidelines for the city’s affordable housing lottery system on Tuesday. The most prominent among those rule changes will be the fact that an application can no longer be rejected just because of an applicant’s credit score or because of their appearance in housing court.

"Every New Yorker deserves equal access to an affordable home, including veterans, the elderly and homeless individuals and families," Bill de Blasio said in a statement. "Disqualifications based solely on credit history, or because a tenant fought for his or her rights in housing court, have no place in our affordable housing programs. These key improvements to the rules level the playing field and give every household the chance to find a home within their means."

These are first such changes made to the system since the online lottery, Housing Connect, was first unveiled in 2013. It follows feedback that the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) solicited from developers, applicants, and affordable housing advocates on the whole process.

Other changes include:

  • Taking into account special challenges faced by residents of homeless shelters in meeting the eligibility criteria
  • To enforce stricter guidelines that ensure that applicants are using the particular affordable unit as their primary residence.
  • More transparency and accessibility in terms of interview locations, and providing interpretation services that includes American Sign Language.
  • Making the appeal process more transparent.
  • Revising the existing interview standards to ensure greater privacy and security of personal information.

Accompanying this announcement, the city has released a new marketing handbook for developers of affordable projects, aside from the comprehensive guidelines the city provides applicants on the website. The changes are part of the Mayor’s Housing New York plan that seeks to create and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over a 10-year period. De Blasio has created about 53,000 units so far.