New Yorkers can now join the waiting list for rent assistance; Deets here

New Yorkers who cannot afford the city's high rents can now join a waiting list for federal housing vouchers. On Monday, New York City Housing Authority reopened the list of Housing Choice Vouchers.

Published on Jun 03, 2024  |  04:44 PM IST |  32.1K
(Image Courtesy: Wikimedia commons)
Image Courtesy: Wikimedia commons
Key Highlight
  • After 15 years, New Yorkers can join the waiting list for federal housing vouchers
  • Vouchers cover rent exceeding 30% of income, a lifeline for struggling households

For the first time in nearly 15 years, New Yorkers struggling to pay the city's high rents can now join the federal housing voucher waiting list. On Monday, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) reopened the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) list as per the New York Times. 

This list had been closed since December 2009 because it had grown too long, with over 128,000 families waiting for assistance. Now that the list has been reduced to 3,700 households, NYCHA has decided it is time to give more people the opportunity to receive the assistance they require. 

Lifeline for struggling families 

Reopening the list provides a huge opportunity for thousands of families struggling to pay New York City's high rents. These vouchers provide a lifeline for low-income families by covering the portion of rent that exceeds 30% of their income, with the government picking up the rest. These vouchers help nearly a quarter of a million low-income New Yorkers find private-sector housing. 

"Just finding housing in New York, even when you have this assistance, is difficult," said Matthew Murphy, executive director of the Furman Center. He noted that people with vouchers frequently face discrimination from landlords. 

Challenges in a tight housing market 

Even with vouchers, finding an apartment remains a big challenge. According to a city survey, the rental vacancy rate was only 1.4% in 2023, the lowest it has been in over 50 years. Affordable apartments are even more scarce. According to the New York University Furman Center's 2018 study, more than 70% of families with children were able to find an apartment within a year of receiving a voucher. By 2022, that percentage had dropped to 58%. 

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"The caveat is we need housing," explained Jay Martin, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program. He explained that, while vouchers are useful, they frequently encounter roadblocks due to the city's tight housing market. 

Personal stories highlight struggles 

Personal stories like Daniris Espinal's reveal the struggle of finding a place to live, even with a housing voucher. At 38 years old, she is an advocate for domestic violence survivors. Daniris shared her own experience of receiving a voucher in 2021, but it took her nearly two years to find a suitable apartment for herself and her two daughters. 

"I had to treat it as a full-time job," Espinal stated. After a lengthy search, she eventually found a three-bedroom apartment in Harlem for $2,700 per month. However, she encountered difficulties with landlords who were hesitant to rent to voucher holders.

"When you go through something so traumatic, like being in an abusive cycle and getting out of that, I think it’s important for everyone to have their space," she stated. "This is what having this voucher has given me, a sense of peace at this point."

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Know more about Housing Choice Voucher in New York:

Who is eligible for a Housing Choice Voucher?
Eligibility is based on income, with preference often given to families with children, elderly individuals, and individuals with disabilities. Applicants must also meet citizenship or eligible immigrant status requirements.

How do I apply for a voucher?
To apply for a Housing Choice Voucher in New York, you must contact the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) or a participating local housing authority.

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