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De Blasio Lowers Requirements to Enter Affordable Housing Lottery, To Benefit Undocumented Immigrants

Mayor Bill De Blasio

Aug. 21, 2019 By Allie Griffin

The city has lowered the requirements necessary to enter its affordable housing lotteries, lessening barriers that discourage undocumented immigrants from applying.

Starting later today, applicants will no longer need a Social Security number or tax ID number for each adult member of the household to be considered for the lottery, as NY1 first reported

While undocumented immigrants could already apply to the lotteries, they previously had to submit an individual tax identification number called a TIN. Undocumented immigrants need to apply to the federal government for a TIN, but many don’t have one.

The requirement for each adult family member of a household to submit a Social Security or TIN number to apply is viewed by the administration as a barrier to many undocumented immigrants. 

“These new changes are a step towards promoting greater racial equity in our housing market and greater access to affordable housing, regardless of immigration status,” said Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner for the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “By eliminating requirements that unnecessarily and disproportionately impact working class immigrant families and people of color, HPD continues to show our City’s commitment to racial and immigrant justice.”

The new changes also allow applicants to wave a landlord-initiated credit check. Instead applicants can show proof that they have paid past rent on time for a year.

“For too long, families without access to credit have faced barriers to the affordable housing they need,” de Blasio said. “By allowing New Yorkers to submit rental history instead of credit checks, we are creating a fairer system for all New Yorkers.” 

The new policies reduce the chance of a tenant denied on the basis of poor credit, according to the mayor’s administration. In addition, the city has increased the number of household occupants permitted per unit. 

Ana Nuñez, a housing ambassador who works for the nonprofit Churches United For Fair Housing which helps people apply for the lotteries praised the city’s decision on NY1. She said now many more of her clients can apply. 

“It completely opens the floodgates,” Nuñez said. “So now this is a truly, truly a sanctuary city.”

In April, the odds of winning an affordable housing lottery were one in 600. With the deletion of the Social Security or TIN requirement, this number is likely to go up. 

Queens has the highest number of undocumented immigrants in the city at 184,000 and about 477,000 undocumented immigrants live in all five boroughs, according to the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs 2018 report

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