Resource Page

As someone who's won the housing lottery multiple times, I naturally get a lot of questions about it. So I thought I'd compile everything here to help you navigate it.

Best of luck!

"NY offers programs that give developers tax breaks and lower-cost loans if they set aside a certain number of units for affordable housing in new buildings or newly renovated properties.

Apartments in these buildings are typically rent-stabilized, and people earning a wide range of incomes can apply to win affordable apartments through the NYC housing lottery...where a computer randomly assigns numbers to each application. The lower the number, the more likely the applicant will be contacted to potentially win an apartment..."

Continue reading here

So what is Affordable Housing?

Other articles/general info:

NYC Rent Guidelines Board: Affordable Housing FAQ

high rise buildings during daytime
high rise buildings during daytime

TL;DR The NYC Housing Lottery is a system through which eligible New Yorkers can apply for affordable housing opportunities (units below market rates) which are made available to individuals and families through a random lottery selection process. Applicants must meet specific income requirements and other eligibility criteria to qualify.

Once the application period is closed, a computer randomizes the applications and assigns each application a Log #.


Every building has it's own application, with it's own selection criteria.
Housing Connect simplifies this, but there are other ways you can apply. (see links below)

They then proceed to go through the Log #s, to find applicants who qualify and begin filling the available units.

When they reach your Log #, you must then submit documentation to verify what you stated on your application (i.e. Income, household size, etc), which may include: tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, utility bills, leases, etc. etc. etc.

Once everything has been verified and you've been approved, the rent-stabilized apartment is yours.

yellow sedan on road near buildings with people walks
yellow sedan on road near buildings with people walks

Each year you must re-certify by resubmitting documents, but if your income changes it doesn't affect you. You still get to keep your apartment. It only affects the building itself and future units that come available.


Current Area Median Income Qualification Chart

Each individual apartment building sets it's own Income limits (minimum and maximum) for it's available apartments - based on the current AMI.

For example, if you're a single occupant applying for an apartment which has been designated at 40% of the AMI, you'd have to make less than $39,560 to qualify for that apartment (as of 2023)

The current AMI levels can be viewed here.


MYTH #1: I make too much money (or not enough) to win the Housing Lottery

FACT: There are Lotteries available for a whole range of incomes, whether your income is $24,000/yr or $124,000/yr. It's how much you pay in rent that changes.

MYTH #2: I'm Self Employed, so I wouldn't qualify.

FACT: What matters is that you have a somewhat stable source of income (i.e. you've had the same freelance line of work for the past 2 years), and somewhat predictable income (i.e. you can show averages from the past two years from the same line of work, to anticipate what you'll make this year).

Read more Myths vs Facts here and here

MYTH #3: You're competing with thousands of people for the same apartment, so your chances are slim.

FACT: Ultimately it is a lottery, so there's no guarantees. But there are also apartments available right now with relatively few applicants (perhaps less than 50) - which greatly increases your chances. You just have to know how to find them.

And Housing Connect is not the only place to look....

yellow car running on the street between the building during daytime
yellow car running on the street between the building during daytime
brown and black building
brown and black building


Q. Does income matter?

A. It does in the sense that for every apartment there's a minimum amount of money you need to make, as well as a maximum you can make. But it's a sliding scale. So there are apartment lotteries for people who make under $40k/year, as well as people who make over $100k/year (and everything in between).

Q. What if your income changes from year to year?

A. What they look for is someone who's future income (over the next 12 months) is somewhat predictable. This includes people who work salaried jobs, as well as freelancers/hourly workers who have worked in the same type of work consistently over the past 2 years (i.e. bartenders, photographers, dancers, tutors, etc), in which case they will look at your average income.

Q. How did you win multiple times? Does that mean you have multiple apartments?

A. I sent out a bunch of applications around the same time - not really keeping track of the applications I sent out - and over the years a number of them have gotten back to me. But I've only taken one of them, which is the apartment where I live now. And as to how I've gotten selected multiple times, I've only gotten selected once through Housing Connect. All the other times I had applied through other websites (see links below), where often there aren't as many applicants so your chances are better.

Q. What if you already have housing / have a lease?

A. If you do get selected (and approved) you must be able to vacate your current apartment usually within a fairly short amount of time - which means getting out of the lease or finding a subletter - as the program doesnt allow you to have multiple apartments.

Q. What if my income changes after I move in?

A. If your income changes after moving in you still get to stay in your apartment (so long as you didn't lie on your application), however if you no longer qualify then the building has to make a future apartment affordable.

Q. How long does the process take?

A. It really just depends. As far as getting selected I've had buildings contact me 3 years after I applied. But the apartment I'm in now only took 3 months. And once you're selected the process moves pretty fast. You typically have 5-10 days to submit all of your documents (pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, etc.), and then a couple of weeks for them to review, and a couple of weeks for the city to give final approval. Once approved, your lease will typically commence in 2-4 weeks.

Q. What are the general requirements?

A. In order to qualify you must be 18. You cannot be a full-time student. It must be your primary residence. And you must meet certain guidelines in terms of income and household size (which will be stated on the application form). Additionally, you dont have to be a NY resident but preference is given to New Yorkers. There may be other selection criteria as well.

Where to find apartments




Places to start:


Housing Ambassadors:

NYC/HPD - Ambassador Resource Page

(Free assistance for navigating Affordable Housing)

Oftentimes Property Management companies can be reached out to directly for an application, to inquire about available apartments, and/or to get on their waitlist.

There are also companies and organizations that can be reached out to directly.

As with Property Managers, the same goes for Developers

Main Hub for the NYC Housing Lottery, but not the only way to find Lotteries