2500 affordable housing units are going online on the new website this summer
COVID-19 has hurt New York City’s economy very badly. The Big Apple is an already an expensive place to live in. Now, it has become even harder to make ends meet. According to the Department of Labor, the unemployment rate has gone up from 18.3% in May 2020 to 20.4% in June 2020. With no jobs, many people are in fear of going homeless in the coming months. The pandemic has totally bared the bones of the affordable housing crisis in NYC. If you are looking for affordable housing (like almost every other New Yorker), you should try your luck out at the new Housing Connect website!
What is affordable housing?
If you spend one-third or less of the Area Median Income (AMI) on housing, your housing is affordable. Click here to know more about your AMI.
The city preserves units in privately owned buildings and puts them up on the Housing Connect website at affordable rates. What’s more, the rent is regulated by the city. So, big rent hikes over time are not going to be an issue! Home ownership opportunities are also available on the new website. You have to apply for these units on the website. The applications then get a random lottery number and the lucky winners get their dream spot in NYC.
How to use the new Housing Connect website?
The new website is very user-friendly and easy to use when compared to the old one which was glitchy. It is very simple and straightforward to set up your profile. The website is responsive which means you can access it on your phone or tablet.
Additionally, the application process was not very efficient on the old website. For example, you had to go through all the listings to identify the appropriate ones for your household size and income. The new website comes with filters for household size, income, neighborhood, amenities, etc. So you can only choose to see the listings you qualify for. To set up your profile, you will essentially need two things: income information for all household members and everyone’s social security number. Here’s a brief overview of how to apply:
- Set up your profile. You will need to enter information for all household members including social security information and income details. For income details, you can use the most recent W-2 forms or an estimate of yearly income. If anybody has an asset (such as savings account, stocks, bonds, etc.), that information will have to be included.
- Enter your housing choices. Make sure to check ‘Yes’ for Re-rentals or Re-sales. One of the many upsides of the new website is that you can apply for older units that tenants have moved out of. So, definitely take the chance and increase your odds of winning the lottery!
- Go to ‘Open Lotteries’ and apply for open listings. Remember to use the filters available under ‘Refine Search’ so that you only apply for units that you qualify for!
- After applying, sit back and relax. If you win the lottery you will be contacted to submit required documents. However, log into the portal from time to time and apply for new listings whenever available.
During this coronavirus pandemic, housing has become a big worry for New Yorkers. For those struggling to pay rent, check out the state’s Rent Relief Program. The deadline for the program has been extended to August 6th, 2020.
What is the COVID-19 Rent Relief Program?
The COVID-19 Rent Relief Program is a one-time assistance for households struggling to pay rent due to the pandemic. The assistance will be sent directly to the landlord. You can receive assistance for up to four months beginning March 1, 2020. At least one person in the household must have a valid immigration status, and it could be a minor child.
The program has received mixed responses from locals. Many people who qualified appreciate the extra financial help during the financial crisis. However, the program does not cover everyone. Some people have complained that they were ineligible for the assistance because they received the extra $600 with their unemployment benefits. Now that the extra $600 from Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) is gone and they are still unemployed, they might have to go homeless. According to the New York State Comptroller, 53% of New York adults age 18 and over live in households that have lost employment income since mid-March as of June 16th.
Even with fears of tomorrow, New Yorkers don’t give up. So don’t lose hope and keep an eye out for new listings on the Housing Connect website. Keep applying because you never know! You have loved this city so much, maybe it’s time for the city to love you back…