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Affordable Housing FAQ


Disclaimer: By providing answers to frequently asked questions, the staff of the Rent Guidelines Board attempts to clarify the often complex programs and regulations governing landlord tenant relations in NYC. However, the information provided herein does not represent official policies or opinions of the City of New York or the Rent Guidelines Board nor should this information be used to substitute for advice of legal counsel.

In addition: The NYS Homes and Community Renewal's Office of Rent Administration (DHCR) also offers useful information on their Web site, with special web pages for both owners and tenants, as well as their own FAQ page.


Where do I find out about all the types of affordable, i.e. regulated or subsidized, housing?

This is a big topic. For starters, visit the affordable housing section of our Apartment Guide, dedicated to giving you information and advice on everything you need to know about rental housing in NYC.

Also visit the NYC Affordable Housing Resource Center, which provides comprehensive information on finding affordable homes for rent and for sale.

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Why is it that people in one building pay different rates for the same size apartment?

Rent regulation and the propensity of renters in NYC to stay in one place longer tend to keep rents lower for long-term tenants.

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I am a low-income person and have fallen behind on my rent. How can I get help?

You may want to try the following groups/programs.

  1. The NYC Department of Homeless Services offers information for those who are having difficulty paying their rent and/or facing eviction.
  2. The City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court (212-962-4795) can offer you a referral to charities that provide financial assistance to tenants facing eviction.
  3. The NYC Affordable Housing Resource Center offers a multitude of links and contacts for Emergency Assistance.
  4. The Coalition for the Homeless may be able to provide assistance for persons having difficulty paying their rent. Call 212-964-5900, option 3 or 212-776-2039. Note that this organization is not always accepting new cases.
  5. The Legal Aid Society may be able to provide help. See our page on finding legal assistance for contact numbers.
  6. Catholic Charities may provide a one-time grant for back rent payments. Call their Rental Assistance Line at 212-371-1000, x. 2499.
  7. Income-eligible, rent stabilized or rent controlled, senior citizens can have their rent frozen at its current rate under a program called SCRIE (Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption). Visit the NYC Dept. of Finance and the NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation & Development for information and referrals. Also see the Attorney General's Housing Guide for Seniors (in pdf format) and the DHCR Fact Sheet on the Special Rights of Seniors.
  8. For those who are disabled, a program called DRIE (Disability Rent Increase Exemption) may freeze your rent at its current level. Information is available in this DHCR Fact Sheet on the Special Rights of Disabled Persons.
  9. Tenant advocacy organizations such as the Metropolitan Council on Housing (212-979-0611) and the NYS Tenants & Neighbors Coalition (212-608-4320) may also offer suggestions.

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What is the Section 8 program?

Section 8 is a federal program which provides housing subsidies to qualified low income households. The tenant must apply for either a certificate or voucher. Unfortunately the wait list for this type of assistance is very long (about 8 years in New York City).

Under the Certificate program, tenants generally pay 30% of their income as their portion of the rent. Owners must agree to a federally established "fair market rent." Under the Voucher program, the rent subsidy is the difference between 30% of the adjusted household income and a pre-established payment standard. If the rent exceeds the payment standard, the tenant must cover the difference.

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What are the eligibility requirements for Section 8 subsidies?

Eligibility requirements are determined by Section 8 sponsoring agencies. Visit our site page on Section 8 housing for contact information.

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How can I find student housing in NYC?

First, almost every college has a housing office or referral system. You should begin by contacting the institution you plan to attend. Ask the university the student will be attending to assist with any off campus listings they may have if the dorms are already full. You can also check bulletin boards at other area schools/universities for house share arrangements with other students or rentals.

In addition, there are many resources on the world wide web you might want to look at, which we have summarized for you in our Apartment Guide. You can search through the Guide on-line for:

  • Classified Ads
  • Online Listings
  • Roommates, Sublets & Student Housing
  • General Housing Resources

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Where can I get information about affordable housing for seniors?

If you are in a rent controlled or stabilized apartment, or you are in a subsidized rental or co-op such as a Mitchell-Lama building, you can apply for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) Program. SCRIE exempts senior citizens who have a limited income and pay over 1/3 of their income for rent, from all or part of rent increases.

For more information about the program, view the fact sheet or contact:

HPD can also help you get information about other affordable housing programs and cooperative apartment waiting lists. For a list of other benefit programs for senior citizens, visit the Attorney General's Housing Guide for Seniors (in pdf format).

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What are the income limits for public housing and "Mitchell-Lama" housing?

Subsidized housing programs such as public housing and Mitchell-Lama housing have a variety of income limits. For more information and contact information for these programs, click on the following links to reach our information pages on public housing, Section 8 housing, and Mitchell-Lama housing.

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How can I use the Internet to rent an apartment in NYC?

We have developed a web site just for people like you called the Apartment Guide. The Guide contains vital information about locating and renting all types of housing in New York City.

For information on short-term and other on-line listings services, visit the Apartment Listings section of the Guide.

For some on-line references to agencies specializing in roommates and sublets, visit the Roommates, Sublets and Student Housing section.

Also take a look at the NYC Affordable Housing Resource Center.

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Are 20% of new luxury buildings set aside for middle income tenants. How can I find "80/20" housing in NYC?

Under the "80/20" program, 20% of the units in certain newly constructed buildings are set aside for low and moderate income households. The rest (the 80%) of the units are rented at market rates. Developers of new housing are not required to participate in this program, but if a developer does, s/he receives low interest bond financing,

Ads for 80/20 buildings are sometimes seen in the newspapers and an up-to-date list is maintained on the NYC HPD website and the Housing Development Corporation's (HDC) website.

As you might guess, since these are new buildings, competition for the 20% of lower rent units is very high. You will need to make an application to each builder or developer.

You may also want to check out our website Apartment Guide under subsidized/public housing for many other links to programs that supply low- and moderate-income housing.

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How can I get help in buying affordable housing?

There are many resources that you can look into to find and purchase affordable housing. Start by contacting the following organizations:

  1. NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) is very active in providing housing for low-income families. They have information on their website about a number of housing programs. You can also call their Affordable Housing Hotline at (212) 863-5610 to get listings of buildings currently accepting applications.
  2. NYS Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) is the local government body that helps provide mortgages for low and moderate-income families. For more information, call 800-382-HOME (4663).
  3. The NYC Affordable Housing Resource Center offers information on becoming a homeowner, including housing lotteries, down payment assistance and home buying counseling agencies.
  4. Other organizations that help low-income families purchase housing include:
    *Fannie Mae
    *Freddie Mac
    *Ginnie Mae

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Disclaimer: By providing answers to frequently asked questions, the staff of the Rent Guidelines Board attempts to clarify the often complex programs and regulations governing landlord tenant relations in NYC. However, the information provided herein does not represent official policies or opinions of the City of New York or the Rent Guidelines Board nor should this information be used to substitute for advice of legal counsel.

RGB Page Updated 1/29/2014


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