A How-to guide for affordable housing seekers

With 10 new residential buildings under construction in the neighborhood, including the Peninsula on the old Spofford juvenile prison site, many affordable housing opportunities will be opening soon.

Tips on how, where and when to apply

With 10 new residential buildings under construction in the neighborhood, including the Peninsula on the old Spofford juvenile prison site, many affordable housing opportunities will be opening soon. But how can residents secure one? The city has an online lottery system called NYC Housing Connect that allows residents to search and apply for affordable housing properties across the five boroughs.

The city has guides online to help explain each step of the process. Links to each of those are below. Councilman Rafael Salamanca Jr.’s office is also available to help walk residents through the process, and instructions are also here to guide people. Salamanca’s office is also holding meetings that aim to help constituents get a better understanding of financial literacy.

“My ultimate goal is for people to leave with a copy of their credit report so you would be able to know what you need to fix,” he said. “So a year from now, when construction begins on these units that I’ve approved and they start accepting applications, they qualify for those units.”

With rising rents surging in the Bronx, the need for affordable housing is high, particularly for seniors, who, according to Salamanca, are the residents who come to his office for help most frequently. Currently on the NYC Housing Connect website, there are six Bronx developments listed with deadlines in May 2018. Salamanca understands that the search for affordable housing involves residents of all income levels.

“I’m fighting to ensure that we’re bringing in housing for homeless, low income and mixed income for my working-class families,” he said, “I want to make sure that I don’t forget about anyone and I feel that’s the right method to keep a community intact.”

So, where to start? Applying and qualifying for affordable housing commands time and diligence of its applicants, as it entails submitting a lot of paperwork in order to meet stringent annual income and household requirements, and upon selection, meet additional criteria. Before you start the online application, here are some tips:

At the Housing Connect website, review the chart in each project’s advertisement, which breaks down the mandatory income levels based on household size. All income sources for all household members should be listed on the application, including for people who are self-employed. All sources of income must be able to be documented and verified. If your application is selected, you will be asked to submit documentation.

Eligibility is also based on other factors, such as credit history, rent payment history and criminal background checks. Also, roommates cannot apply together. This kind of housing is intended for households and families who can demonstrate financial interdependence.
Also, applicants cannot own other residential property, and must list assets to qualify.

STEP 1: create a NYC Housing Connect Account
All applicants are required to use a valid email address that will serve as the account name. After applicants register their accounts, a temporary password is sent to the email address. Next applicants will be asked to change the temporary password on initial sign in.

STEPS 2 and 3: Start filling out fields!
All applicants must submit their name, address, phone number; list all the people, including the applicant, of who will live in the unit and indicate if any member has either a mobile, visual, or hearing disability.

STEP 4: Enter household employment information
…for all people who live in the household.

STEP 5: Enter household income
This is the most consequential section of the application process that can ultimately either disqualify or approve an application. Once an application is selected through the lottery, applicants are invited to an interview and will be asked to bring documents that verify household size and income.

Applicants must also list income from other sources, such as unemployment compensation, SSI, Social Security, alimony, income from rental property, babysitting, child support, and scholarships/grants.

STEP 6. Enter household assets
Applicants must list any type of asset and its institution in the household. Examples are checking and saving accounts, stocks, bonds, and real estate.

STEP 7: Explain current living situation
-Applicants must list current monthly rent, type of landlord, address, and phone number, and reason for moving. If applicants are receiving a rental subsidy such as Section 8 Housing Voucher or other, it must be specified.

STEP 8: Enter ethnic identification
The applicant is asked to check the ethnic group(s) that best identifies their household. This information is optional and will not affect the selection process.

Applicants are allowed to skip a step, if for example they need additional time to accrue more information for their application. To advance to the next step in the process, they must click on the save and continue button at the bottom of each page. This prevents previous information to be deleted.

After applicants have completed every step, they will click on the finish and submit button at the bottom of page, seen on step 8. It automatically leads to the Housing List page. It’s now that applicants can seek specific apartments.

On this page, applicants can view:
-Name/Address of the apartment
-Application Start Date
-Application Deadline Date
-Project Status i.e. current or upcoming
-Application Status
-Apply button

Applicants can modify the page to list housing projects according by name, borough, application deadline date, or application status. For example, if a Bronx resident wants to view housing opportunities from the Bronx first, click on Borough, and the housing listings will be alphabetized by borough.

Next, applicants can click on any housing listings. A new tab will open, and an advertisement page of the housing project will appear on screen.

All advertisement pages will include:
-Available Unit Size
-Monthly Rent for Unit Size
-Units Available
-Household Size
-Annual Household Income
-Nearest Transit Stops

After applicants have carefully reviewed the unit size, household size, and annual household income they may qualify for, return to the Housing List page and click the apply button located on the far-right side of the screen.

After applicants click apply, a Submit Your Application page will automatically appear. It asks applicants to ensure that the information currently in their profiles are accurate and will be submitted as the application for the project chosen.

An electronic signature is required, using applicants’ email account and password.
Then click the submit button. No changes or a withdrawal can be made after an application has been submitted.

What to expect after submitting your application? After the application deadline date has passed, applications enter 3 phases:

Phase 1: Lottery
Applications received on time will enter a lottery. The applications are randomly ordered and assigned a log number.

Phase 2: Resident Selection
The process of verifying eligibility of applicants occurs in this phase. Developers work in order of the log numbers. Applicants will only be contacted if their application is randomly selected. Chances of being contacted are highest if you are randomly assigned a low log number or you meet a specified preference such as residents who live in a particular community board.

If contacted it may be for one of the following reasons:
Schedule for interview
Notice of Rejection

Interviews are scheduled from two to 10 months after the application deadline.
Appeal: If applicants feel they wrongly received a rejection letter, they have two weeks to appeal the decision in writing to the developer. Due to the high volume of applications submitted, not all applications will be contacted.

Phase 3: Wait List
The housing developer will notify qualified applicants if they have made the waiting list. According to Housing Connect, at this stage, it is the responsibility of the applicant to notify the developer in writing that you wish to remain on the wait list every six months.

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