The process of applying to live in a city-financed affordable housing development is about to enter the 21st century.
Starting Tuesday morning, applicants seeking to rent or buy an apartment in two new developments – the Westwind Houses in East Harlem and Richmond Place in Richmond Hill, Queens – will be able to create a user profile and submit applications to each development on a new Web site, www.nyc.gov/housingconnect.
In the fall, the site will expand to include all new affordable housing development projects in the city, meaning that applicants will be able to create an online application, then submit that application to any new affordable housing lottery in New York with the click of a button.
The city receives approximately 160,000 applications each fiscal year for about 4,000 affordable apartment units, which usually sell or rent at below-market rates. Applicants, who must meet certain income requirements to qualify for affordable housing, are selected via lottery.
City officials hope that the online process will be a major improvement for applicants, who, until now, have had to use only a paper system.
Under that system, applicants had to contact building managers, community sponsors or real estate professionals to receive an application, then complete and mail a new paper application to the developer of each building they were interested in applying for. The new system will permit a person to save an application online and use it to enter multiple lotteries.
City officials said the Web application process will also offer other improvements over the paper system, including a central location for all affordable housing lotteries, automatic notifications, and the ability to check the status of each lottery.
Paper applications will still be accepted and included in the regular lottery even when the Web site includes all available housing developments in the fall.
The City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, who proposed an electronic application process in her 2011 State of the City address, said she was excited to see the system launch.
“It will open up a system to more New Yorkers, and create the potential for more New Yorkers to access housing out there in the five boroughs,” she said. “They say you have to be in it to win it, and we’re trying to create the chance for more New Yorkers to be ‘in it’.”