Restrictions on the use of credit scores, personal assets and recognizing special challenges residents of homeless shelters face ensure that affordable housing reaches those New Yorkers most in need
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner and Housing Development Corporation (HDC) Chair Vicki Been announced today a series of new affordable housing lottery rules designed to ensure that City-assisted affordable housing reaches the New Yorkers who need it most.
Important changes to the policies include ending developers and leasing agents’ ability to deny applications based solely on credit scores; new standards for homeless shelter referrals to account for special challenges faced by these households; strictly limiting the ability of landlords to deny an applicant based only on their exercising due process rights in housing court; and imposing limits on personal assets.
“Every New Yorker deserves equal access to an affordable home, including veterans, the elderly and homeless individuals and families,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “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.”
The new Marketing Handbook can be found here.
The requirements – the first updates to these guidelines since Housing Connect was launched in 2013 – address feedback received by applicants, affordable housing advocates, marketing agents and for-profit and not-for-profit developers about the City’s affordable housing eligibility criteria and the application process. In response, HPD and HDC reviewed and revised the policies to make them fairer, more transparent and more effective at targeting affordable housing to those most in need.
“Under Housing New York, we are working not only to build and preserve housing for rent-burdened New Yorkers, but also to ensure that our housing is allocated fairly and efficiently. Through our new marketing policies and procedures, we’ve standardized the criteria developers can use to evaluate applicants, restricted the use of credit scores and housing court history to determine eligibility and limited personal assets, all to ensure that the affordable homes we build and preserve serve the New Yorkers who need them most,” said Vicki Been, Commissioner of HPD and Chair of the Board for HDC.
“New York City is home to almost one million people with disabilities,” said Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Commissioner Victor Calise. “The release of this handbook marks great progress in ensuring that accessible and affordable homes are available to the families who need them.”
“All New Yorkers, regardless of their source of income, deserve equal access to safe, affordable housing. At the Department of Veterans’ Services, we’re especially concerned with ensuring veterans are not discriminated against because their primary source of income is their post-9/11 GI Bill. Under the Mayor’s new Housing New York policies and procedures, it is clear that landlords must rent to veterans as they would to any other New Yorker. DVS thanks our partners at HPD and HDC for working with us and the larger veteran community to explicitly include this protection of veterans in its new policies,” said Commissioner of the Department of Veterans' Services Loree Sutton.
The new marketing policies are yet another way the City is delivering on the promises of Housing New York, Mayor de Blasio’s ten-year plan to create and preserve 200,000 affordable homes. With nearly 53,000 affordable homes financed under the plan to date, the new policies and procedures help to ensure that those new homes reach the New Yorkers they were designed to serve.
By standardizing all selection criteria, the new guidelines ensure that households who have the ability to pay rent and, by all other indicators, can be expected to be responsible tenants are not rejected solely on the basis of a low credit score, or solely because a tenant appeared in housing court.
The policies also promote greater language accessibility at all stages of the application process, require consistency in how developers and marketing agents communicate with applicants and apply credit criteria and other standards, and increase the transparency of the appeal process.
The new policies and procedures make the affordable housing application process more inclusive to reach New Yorkers most in need by:
- Standardizing and limiting use of credit and housing court history in the selection process so that applicants are treated consistently and fairly across all projects.
- Accounting for the special challenges residents of homeless shelters face in meeting eligibility criteria, including victims of domestic violence, to improve the chances that households will be placed in permanent housing.
- Clarifying how developers calculate income of applicants receiving government benefits, for example those receiving GI Bill or Section 8 benefits, to ensure consistency and forestall discrimination.
- Tightening guidelines to ensure those who qualify for affordable housing will use their new home as their primary residence.
- Requiring that interview locations be accessible and clearly marked, and that interviewers provide interpretation services, including American Sign Language.
- Ensuring developers’ outreach and advertising efforts include diverse communities citywide.
- Reforming the appeal process to make the process more transparent.
- Revising interview standards to ensure more privacy and security of personal information.
- Prohibiting home visits, which are too subjective to be fair.
Developers are notified of the marketing policies and procedures before their affordable housing projects are financed, and are required to follow them to allocate units that become ready for occupancy. About 7 months before the construction project will be completed, developers must submit a marketing plan to the HPD or HDC marketing teams for approval. These plans must adhere to the policies described in the Marketing Handbook. Once HPD or HDC approves the marketing plan, the developer must advertise the availability of new affordable housing. Those advertisements and other outreach described in the marketing plans typically begin twenty-one to sixty days prior to the lottery application deadline.
Learn more about the affordable housing lottery process and about available housing lotteries by visiting the links below:
- For a summary of affordable housing resources visit: How to Find Housing
- Learn What to Expect when you apply
- Find out what happens After you Apply
All of the above webpages can be accessed through HPD’s website.
Since its 2013 launch, NYC Housing Connect has simplified the City’s housing lottery process. The website allows New Yorkers to fill out a single online profile, which can be used to apply to multiple new housing lotteries. That profile can be saved and edited, eliminating the need to fill out individual paper applications for upcoming lotteries. HPD and HDC encourage people in need of affordable housing opportunities to take advantage of the convenient online application, as application periods for new affordable housing lotteries open regularly. Because the City has shaped its programs to ensure that housing is available for people at a range of income levels, not all buildings provide housing at all income levels. However, applicants who are not income-eligible for one given development may be eligible for another.
Income eligibility standards are generally set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and contain strict rules about how income is calculated. For more information that will help with this portion of the application process please visit: Applicant Income Guidelines
The NYC Housing Connect website now serves Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, and Spanish speakers. Each existing housing lottery advertisement and all upcoming lotteries are also available in each of the above listed languages. Translations were funded by Citi Community Development.
All registered applicants are notified via email when new lotteries are posted to the NYC Housing Connect site. Instructions on how to submit a paper application are also available, and listed in each housing lottery advertisement. Applicants may not submit both a paper application and a web application for the same project. Duplicate applications may be disqualified, as an applicant can only apply once to any given development.
About the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD):
HPD is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and diverse, thriving neighborhoods for New Yorkers through loan and development programs for new affordable housing, preservation of the affordability of the existing housing stock, enforcement of housing quality standards, and educational programs for tenants and building owners. HPD is tasked with fulfilling Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York: A Five-Borough Ten-Year Plan to create and preserve 200,000 affordable units for New Yorkers at the very lowest incomes to those in the middle class. For more information visit www.nyc.gov/hpd and for regular updates on HPD news and services, connect with us via www.facebook.com/nychousing and @nychousing.
About the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC):
HDC is the nation’s largest municipal Housing Finance Agency and is charged with helping to finance the creation or preservation of affordable housing under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York plan. Since 2003, HDC has financed more than 120,000 housing units using over $13.7 billion in bonds, and provided in excess of $1.6 billion in subsidy from corporate reserves. HDC ranks among the nation’s top issuers of mortgage revenue bonds for affordable multi-family housing on Thomson Reuter’s annual list of multi-family bond issuers. In each of the last four consecutive years, HDC’s annual bond issuance has surpassed $1 billion. For additional information, visit: http://www.nychdc.com.