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Young, single New Yorkers favored to win affordable housing lotteries

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City records show the bulk of lotteried apartments go to singles aged 25–34

If you’re young and you’re single, your chances of winning one of the hyper-competitive affordable housing lotteries run by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development go up—way up, reports DNAInfo. They combed through two years of public data to break down the bleak stats, finding that “the lion’s share” of these middle- to low-income apartments go to single folks between the ages of 25 and 34.

In large part, that has to do with the available housing stock, DNAInfo explains. Between January 2013 and the end of 2015, HPD ran 48 housing lotteries for a total of 1,470 units throughout the city. But according to the data, more than half of those available units were either studios or one bedrooms.

Here’s DNAInfo’s exact breakdown of open apartments in that time:

  • 293 studios
  • 605 1 bedrooms
  • 516 2 bedrooms
  • 56 3+ bedrooms

Forty-one percent of those apartments went to residents between the ages of 25 and 34, while 50 percent of lottery winners were single. The stats for the older and the younger are less promising: only 4 percent of units went to people 62 or older, and 11 percent went to New Yorkers under 25. (This doesn’t take into account the lotteries run by the City’s Housing Development Corporation.)

Sarah Desmond, the executive director of Housing Conservation Coordinators, which advocates for affordable housing on Manhattan’s west side, says the stock of particular types of units reflects the market. “We see a disproportionate number of studios and one bedrooms because that is the market for the luxury buildings in Hell's Kitchen," she told DNAInfo.

Another potential factor: the accessibility of the lottery process itself. Potential renters often file their applications online through Housing Connect (though people can send in snail mail applications), leaving older people who might not be as internet-savvy at a disadvantage. If the applicant pool is disproportionately younger, Desmond said, it “speaks to a need for greater outreach.”

While the city wouldn’t release the total number of lottery applicants, it is safe to say the number is high—DNAInfo recalls that time in 2015 when 200,000 people applied for an affordable housing lottery in Bushwick. The number of available units? 14.