The Actual Odds Of Winning The Affordable Housing Lottery

535 Carlton rendering via 535 Carlton.

With so many of the new developments that are required to offer affordable housing approaching completion, we’ve been posting about the opportunities to apply for the apartments one actually could try to afford to live in.

City Limits decided to look at the actual applicant pool for Pacific Park development (aka Atlantic yards) to see what they would learn. After filing a freedom on information request, they obtained the raw applicant data for the  92,743 households who entered the lottery for the “100 percent affordable” 535 Carlton from the city. Here are the odds for each income band, 5 being highest, and 1 being lowest income levels:Your odds are best if you live in one of the community boards surrounding the Pacific Park development, as 50% of the units are to be allocated to residents of those areas and only 14% of the applicant pool were from those neighborhoods. They are even better, if you happen to also make a six figure salary and be in the market for one of the higher priced apartments:

Of the 92,743 households who entered the lottery “only 2,203, according to City Limits’ analysis, were eligible for 148 middle-income apartments, such as one-bedrooms renting for $2,680 monthly and two-bedrooms at $3,223, affordable to those earning six figures.”

Compare that to the odds of one in 1,245, if you were hoping to to score one of the truly affordable apartments:

“For less costly apartments, the competition was fierce. For the 15 moderate-income units, including seven one-bedrooms at $1,320, some 18,680 households applied.

More starkly, nearly 67,000 households, some 72 percent of the applicant pool, aimed at the 90 low-income units, including one-bedrooms at $589 and $929, for singles earning $21,566 to $25,400 and $33,223 to $38,100, respectively.”

This should not be surprising to anyone who lives here.

The median income in Brooklyn, according to census, is still only about $50,000 per household. Spending 1/3 of income, as is recommended, for rent would limit one’s options to apartments in the $1,375 range – without rent becoming too much of a burden.  Unfortunately that is not the area median income that is used to calculate the affordable housing qualifications: “The AMI for 2016 is $90,600 for a family of four”, states NYC Housing Development Corporation, which includes Westchester in its calculations.

If you look at this report by Renthop that was published last week, what’s billed as affordable housing north of Prospect Park, would be for most part – more than market rates for the rest of us.

According to Douglas Elliman’s February market report, the entry level rental rates for new construction in Brooklyn were $3,284 month, whereas median rental rate for the entire borough was $2,750, which is also what the average rental rate is for a one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn these days, according to the report. This means that unless your household makes over $100,000, rent is a problem.

Market rate rentals at new construction in downtown Brooklyn, for example at The Ashland, are $3,500 for one bedroom, and over $5,000 for two bedrooms – under these conditions you can see how a one bedroom for $2,680 a month and two-bedrooms at $3,223 would be considered affordable housing.

But not for most of us.

It seems there are two ways to go about this – more market rate construction that is targeted at, interesting and affordable to the better off set of Brooklyn residents – the 25% of households that make over $100k, so they do not push the rest of us out of the further reaches of Brooklyn, or higher wages for the other 75%.

Comment policy


  1. Even for a family of four making over $100k the rent is not “affordable.” NYC has some of the most expensive childcare in the nation. Now we have to consider sacrificing either where we will live or how our kids will get taken care of while we work to pay the ridiculous rent.

  2. A one-bedrooms renting for $2,680 monthly and is offered for $1,320 well who is paying to subsidies the balance., hard working people. If you can’t afford to live there find a cheaper place. Everyone has to have entitlements, get a better job or 2 or 3 if that is where you want to live.

  3. This whole “affordable housing” scheme is a scam. Just like “rent control” a few handpicked people get a sweetheart deal on the backs of taxpayers and 99% of everyone else pays higher rents on their own to subsidize these “lottery winners”. If you can’t afford to live in NYC then hey why not do what generations of people have done before you, move to some place you can afford and stop being a whiny loser. This generation has such an entitlement mentality, no comprises, no sacrifices. The developers, government hacks, advocates and a few, a slim few people benefit off the sweat of everyone else.

  4. Dear Jeff, You’re a Dick! So you’re saying people who are disabled and make between $750-1200 a month on disability shouldn’t have a right to an affordable apartment..or more of a right to it really..rather than someone making 50k and above who can easily afford a studio or 1 bedroom? Or the minimum wage worker making 20k a year working 2 jobs shouldn’t have affordable housing before someone earning 40,50,60k and above? I love you heartless no soul pricks who probably voted for Drump and think entitlements are some easy way for people to get out of working. I’d be really surprised if you’re originally from Brooklyn/NYC. People like you are a big part of the problem with why NY sucks now compared to 20, 30 and more years ago. You wouldn’t be able to get through a day without those low paid workers. It’s people like you who should leave NY/Brooklyn cause though I’m white..I’d be much happier living without you lily white idiots with your noses in the air thinking your crap doesn’t stink! You say the slim few benefit off the sweat of everyone else…karma’s a bitch..you very well might find yourself in the slim few some day cause of your thoughts and actions..and I’d love to see how you feel if that were to happen. Such as you losing the ability to work and having to live off of $750 a month plus food stamps/Snap and food pantries. You don’t like paying taxes? Well, why don’t you move to a country where taxes are minimal? See how long you last there!! Pricks like you make me wanna vomit..on you! Jeez that’d be pretty funny now that I think of it. Care to meet at Sycamore or Bar chord? 1st drinks’ on me..then you!!


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