How to Win the NYC Housing Lottery


Winning an apartment through the NYC housing lottery would be a dream come true for countless New Yorkers. The application process is an arduous one, and missteps derail many applicants. This article offers tips to applicants of the NYC housing lottery.


It’s akin to winning the actual lottery: media reports show time and again that scoring an apartment in the NYC housing lottery would be a dream come true to millions of New Yorkers. Thousands upon thousands of people apply to the 80/20 programs in NYC as soon as they pop up on the market. And why not? Apartments for rent in glitzy, high-end apartment buildings for way less than market rates sounds like part of an urban legend, but they’re totally real.

80/20 buildings are those built by developers who have received tax breaks from the New York State HFA (Housing Finance Agency); 20 percent of the units in these multifamily buildings are set aside for low-income and working-class residents. While winning one of these units would be amazing, the odds of doing so are pretty low. There’s no magic door or secret password to winning these spaces; the selection process is truly a lottery in every sense of the word. What you can do is go into the process armed with knowledge and fully prepared so that you are ahead of the housing lottery game.

Know the Income Limits

Those dreaded income limits are the invisible gatekeepers that reduce many almost-eligible apartment hunters to tears. You have to prove that your income falls into the range allowed for the apartment you’re applying for. If you’re mere dollars over the limit, you can lose your chance, so make sure that there are no mistakes, typos, or miscalculations in the income paperwork you submit. Once you’re rejected, you can appeal, but winning your appeal is not guaranteed. Income requirements vary depending on the building in question and the size of the apartment that you’re applying for.

Be Meticulous with the Paperwork

The amount of paperwork you’ll be asked to provide is insane, so come prepared. If you advance to the interview stage of the process, you’ll be given less than two weeks to produce a mountain of documents, including the following: last six months of rent receipts, phone bills, Internet bills, last three years of tax returns, passport, birth certificate, etc. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. One error in these documents, and you could pull yourself out of the running. Take your time, and do it right.

Sign Up with NYC Housing Connect

Go through the NYC Housing Connect website to apply for 80/20 apartments. Every single building in the city that is in the program is listed here. When you first visit the site to apply, you’ll create a username and password. You’ll be asked to fill out some additional information for your profile before you can start applying for apartments. Each building listed details the income requirements for each unit so there’s no misunderstanding. Some buildings have income tiers, so for instance, if you’re applying for the program and you earn $90,000 per annum, you may be required to pay $2,200 per month for a two-bedroom apartment in the building, while someone applying to the program who earns $13,000 may be required to pay $700 per month for a similar unit. All of this info is laid out for you on the site, making it easy for you to stay up to speed.

Don’t Give Up

Those who are persistent are the ones who have a shot at winning the prize. They say that the answer to your dreams could be just around the next turn. You don’t want to be the person who stopped just short of the turn.

Image Source: Flickr/Kris Arnold


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  1. John Francese
    October 19, 2015

    Looking to win a lottery housing. S.S.D.I.

  2. Lesly Demosthene
    May 16, 2016

    I think i might get lucky one day still going at it searching for an apartment.

  3. Joe
    June 17, 2016

    I’m sure I gonna be the winner someday in the future

  4. Swee Kee Moloney
    February 18, 2017

    Hope one DAY I can win.

  5. Swee Kee Moloney
    February 18, 2017

    I think I can win the housing.

  6. Fritz Laguerre
    March 5, 2017

    i would like to register for the housing lottery


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