New York City’s online housing lottery application system is getting a much-needed overhaul, as the coronavirus pandemic has put the city’s households under unprecedented economic stress.
The NYC Housing Connect system was known for randomly crashing and freezing and for a lack of transparency, as well as still requiring some parts of the application process to be conducted in person. The system has received more than 25 million applications for around 40,000 units since its launch in 2013.
The new system is rolling out on Tuesday, the New York Times reported.
“The new and improved NYC Housing Connect will make applying for affordable housing easier than ever at a time that we know families need all the help they can get,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
The new system will allow financial documents to be uploaded electronically, and applicants will be able to apply on their smartphones. Applicants will also be shown apartments that they are most likely to qualify for based on their profiles, rather than having to blindly apply to buildings on the site without knowing about their eligibility beforehand.
“One of the biggest frustrations was people not hearing if you were accepted and not hearing if you were rejected,” Luis Daniel Caridad of Lower East Side affordable housing group GOLES told the Times. “We’ve been told that it has been fundamentally changed, and we are hopeful.”
At the same time, however, the coronavirus crisis has led to major budget cuts that could cost the city 21,000 affordable apartments over the next few years, according to an analysis from the New York Housing Conference.
“Having the actual affordable housing that hundreds of thousands of people need is really where the city needs to move toward,” Caridad said. “The broader problem has not been fixed.” [NYT] — Kevin Sun