April 23, 2019 By Thomas Laforgia
Applications for New York City’s housing lottery have skyrocketed since 2011 — with hopefuls now facing 1-in-600 odds of snagging an affordable unit, according to lottery data.
The lottery system in 2011 processed 133,335 requests for affordable apartments. By 2018, officials reported that 4,654,603 applications had been submitted, according to housing data.
A major spike in available lottery housing under the de Blasio administration has only slightly tempered the runaway apartments-to-applicants ratio. In 2011, there were 2,107 units up for grabs, a number that by 2018 had nearly quadrupled to 7,857. But the odds of scoring a spot in 2011 were much rosier back then— just 1 in 63, according to the New York Times.
The surge in applications followed the city’s release of its online NYC Housing Connect system in 2012, which made it easier for residents to apply. The website allows applicants to fill out a profile and enter multiple lotteries. By 2016, the odds of winning had ballooned, peaking at nearly 1 in 1,000, when 2.54 million applications were in the draw for 2,628 affordable apartments.
The lotteries are open to New Yorkers who earn no more than $120,615 for a single person or $199,650 for a family of six. And the demand is very high for many projects. For instance, more than 92,000 applied for the 924 units at Hunters Point South in 2014.
The income levels have been subject to criticism. Critics claim that the lottery does not go far enough to help the people at the low income spectrum who are most in need of affordable housing.
The apartments are owned by private developers that typically receive tax abatements or zoning benefits in exchange for the units.
The odds aren’t quite as dire as they seem since many applicants are disqualified., according to city’s Department of Housing Preservation, which oversees the lotteries with the Development and Housing Development Corporation.
Applicants are often disqualified for earning too much or too little or not having the necessary paper work.