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New NYC housing lottery rules remove a barrier to entry for immigrants and other renters

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Applicants will now have the option to provide rent payment history instead of a credit check

View of New York City buildings and the Empire State behind them. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In the midst of an affordability crisis and calls from advocates to build more apartments for NYC’s homeless population, the de Blasio administration has announced changes to its rules for applicants in the city’s affordable housing lottery.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the Housing Development Corporation (HDC), announced that the lottery application now allows for applicants to provide 12 months of rent payment history instead of having the landlord run a credit check or provide their own. This means applicants won’t have to provide a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number for every adult in the household, allowing immigrants to apply as well.

“These new changes are a step towards promoting greater racial equity in our housing market and greater access to affordable housing, regardless of immigration status,” Bitta Mostofi, commissioner for the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, said in a statement.

A fair housing advocacy group applauded the announcement.

“Now, we are one step closer to truly becoming a sanctuary city for all,” Ana Nunez, constituent services specialist at Churches United for Fair Housing said in a statement. “Documented or undocumented, immigrants work, pay taxes, send their children to school, and participate in the community, and deserve to fully participate in the city’s affordable housing initiative like everyone else.”

The new rules also include increasing the number of occupants per apartment, which broadens the range of unit sizes for which households can qualify.

The updates are also now in line with the recently-passed new package of rent laws, limiting credit check fees to $20 per application and allowing applicants to provide their own credit check to the landlord.

The announcement comes a day after nonprofit Coalition for the Homeless released a report that found that the city’s housing plan fails to address the city’s homelessness crisis. Last month, a study also found that the NYC housing lottery system reinforces segregation.