To get food stamps, you need the make and model of your car. To get rental assistance, you need your child’s social security number. To get supportive housing, you must complete a series of screenings to prove your need for services. Even if you have lived in a homeless shelter for years, you still have to verify that you are low-income to get access to housing.

From in-person meetings, visits with case workers, shuttling documents from one City agency to another, to paperwork that never seems to be filled out correctly, we have a complicated system in place to help those most in need. Is it working? Given what we know about how much New Yorkers depend on these programs for their health, safety, and success, are we doing everything we can to ensure the process moves as swiftly as possible?

 In this new policy brief, CHPC analyzes NYC housing lottery data to examine how long it takes for tenants to move into new affordable housing.

Read the CHPC issue brief that explores how long it takes for New Yorkers to move into new affordable lottery units.

Key Findings
  • On average it takes 371 days to fill all the units in a NYC housing lottery, despite units being available and ready for occupancy.

     

  • Project variables such as building size, AMI level, or number of applications received are not correlated with prolonged rent-up times.

     

  • One in three housing lotteries did not begin until months after a building was already ready for occupancy, resulting in units sitting empty despite being ready to house New Yorkers.

     

  • The Mayors Management Report does not measure the time it takes to rent up the affordable housing units that HPD finances and builds.

How can we improve the affordable housing lottery process? Given what we know about how much New Yorkers depend on these programs for health, safety, and success, are we doing all we can to ensure the process moves as quickly as possible?

  • City agencies must: evaluate the administrative burden of their programs; set performance goals and measure progress over time; work with State and Federal government to streamline regulations; and seek alternative methods (such as using administrative data) to collect and verify eligibility information.