What is the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and what do they do?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the Federal agency responsible for national policy and programs that address America's housing needs, that improve and develop the Nation's communities, and enforce fair housing laws. Although HUD administers many programs, its major functions may be grouped into six categories:

  • Insuring mortgages for single-family and multi-family dwellings, and extending loans for home improvement and for purchasing mobile homes
  • Channeling funds from investors into the mortgage industry through the Government National Mortgage Association
  • Making direct loans for construction or rehabilitation of housing projects for the elderly and handicapped
  • Providing Federal housing subsidies for low and moderate-income families
  • Providing grants to States and communities for community development activities; and
  • Promoting and enforcing fair housing and equal housing opportunities.

Back to top

Is there a toll-free number I can call to find HUD-approved housing counseling agencies?
HUD has a toll-free housing counseling referral service that provides potential homebuyers, homeowners, and renters with the names and telephone numbers of their nearest HUD approved housing counseling agencies. Services provided by the agencies include: first time homebuyer information, mortgage default and delinquency counseling, reverse mortgage (HECM) counseling, financial management and property maintenance guidelines. Toll-Free Housing Referral Service 1-800-569-4287 1-800-358-6216 (TDD)

Back to top

Who can help me if I am having problems with my landlord?

The Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) is responsible for the supervision, maintenance and development of affordable low- and moderate-income housing in New York State. DHCR oversees rent control and rent stabilization laws. DHCR can also help with complaints about landlord harassment. Additionally, DHCR oversees certain housing programs, such as Mitchell-Lama. For more information, see:

  • Housing Operations - Oversight and regulation of the State's public and publicly assisted rental housing;
  • Community Development - Administration of housing development and community preservation programs, including State and Federal grants and loans to housing developers to partially finance construction or renovation of affordable housing; and
  • Rent Administration - Administration of the rent regulation process for more than one million rent-regulated apartments in both New York City, and those localities in the counties of Albany, Erie, Nassau, Rockland, Schenectady, Rensselaer and Westchester subject to rent laws.

Back to top

My income is very low and I cannot afford my apartment – what can I do?

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) provides affordable housing for low- and moderate- income residents throughout the five boroughs. NYCHA also administers a citywide Section 8 Leased Housing Program in rental apartments. Unfortunately, the waiting lists for these programs are extremely long. As of September 30, 2004 there were 136,944 families are on the waiting list for Conventional Public Housing, 123,126 families on the list for the Section 8 program and 27,297 applicants on both lists.

You can also look for 80/20 housing – buildings in which landlords set aside 20% of the housing for low and moderate income tenants. Demand for these apartments is high, and usually there are many more applicants than there are apartments.

You can also explore the possibility of Mitchell-Lama housing. The New York State Mitchell-Lama Housing Program was created in 1955 for the purpose of building affordable housing for middle-income residents. Private developers agreed to receive a low fixed rate of return in exchange for tax breaks. A total of 269 Mitchell-Lama developments with over 105,000 apartments were built under the program. In addition, 22 middle-income developments with over 10,000 apartments were built under the Limited-Dividend program, a precursor of the Mitchell-Lama program. Unfortunately, no Mitchell-Lama buildings have been built in more than twenty years, and many developers are starting to opt out of the program. As a result, there are many fewer Mitchell-Lama apartments available than there were five years ago. To learn more about current program vacancies, interested applicants can call (212) 863-6500 for City-sponsored Mitchell-Lama units or (212) 480-7343 for State-sponsored Mitchell-Lama information.

Lists of State Supervised Middle Income Housing Developments For Families and Senior Citizens

DHCR lists, by county, Middle Income Housing Developments for Families and Senior Citizens constructed under New York State's limited profit and limited dividend housing programs. The lists indicate whether the development is a rental or cooperative. For complete details on apartment availability, admission eligibility, and application instructions, please contact the management office of the individual development, listed on DHCR’s website.

Back to top

How do I apply for public housing?

In order to be considered for an apartment in a public housing development, a completed application must be submitted to NYCHA. Applications for public housing may be picked up from the Borough Applications Offices for the borough in which you reside or you may call the Applications Offices to have an application mailed to you.


55 West 125th Street, 7th floor
New York, New York 10027
(212)828-7118 (TDD/TTY)


120-34 Queens Boulevard, 2nd floor
Kew Gardens, New York 11415
(718)793-7661 (TDD/TTY)

Applicants select a first and second borough choice and provide information about their total household income, family composition and current living situation. Completed applications must be mailed to :
Post Office Box 1342
Church Street Station
New York, NY 10008

Applications are assigned a priority code based upon the information provided, and placed on the Housing Authority’s preliminary waiting list to await an eligibility interview. Within several weeks of our receiving of your application you will receive an acknowledgment letter.

Applicants are scheduled for an eligibility interview based upon the following:

* The Authority counts the number of vacancies at each development and determines how many applications are needed to fill anticipated vacancies over a 9-month period.

* The Authority determines the number of applicants needed to be interviewed to fill the anticipated vacancies in each borough’s developments. A computer selects applicants on a borough by borough basis, based upon their first borough choice, apartment size required, housing priority and date of application, and schedules them for an eligibility interview.

Borough Choice is a significant factor in determining how soon an applicant will be selected for an interview. Therefore, it is important for applicants to select their first borough choice carefully. The Authority has longer waiting lists and fewer vacancies in the boroughs of Manhattan and Queens. Applicants selecting one of these boroughs as their first borough choice will probably have to wait longer to be called for an eligibility interview.

All applicants scheduled for an eligibility interview are asked to appear at the Housing Applications Office located in the borough in which they reside. Applicants who are "mobility impaired" or who have some other type of disability that would make it a hardship for them to appear in person for their eligibility interview, can request that a telephone interview be scheduled. In addition, the Authority makes every effort to provide Bi-Lingual staff to meet the various language needs of applicants.

At the eligibility interview the applicant’s family size and composition, housing priority, total family income and citizenship/immigration status are determined. If the family is income eligible and NYCHA receives all requested documentation, their application is sent to the Department of Housing Application’s screening unit. There are 3 steps to screening:

  • Criminal background check for all household members age 16 or older
  • Current and / or previous landlord contact
  • Home Visit conducted by an outside contractor

If the screening process determines that the family meets NYCHA’s Standards for Admission, the family is found eligible. Depending on the housing priority and family size, an applicant may be offered the option to select either a specific development with a waiting list of less than 6 months, or to be placed on a borough-wide waiting list.

Emergency applicants – the homeless, victims of domestic violence and intimidated witnesses -- and all families requiring 5 bedrooms or more, are only entitled to a borough choice. All other applicants are permitted to select a development.

Health Emergency applicants have the option of project choice or borough choice.

NOTE: NYCHA will not accept applications printed from the web, You should pick up the applications from the Borough Applications Offices or you may call the Applications Office to have an application mailed to you.

Back to top

How do I apply for Section 8?

The New York Housing Authority is no longer accepting Section 8 applications "EXCEPT" Those in the 4 categories listed below, until further notice:

  • Victim Of Domestic Violence
  • Homeless
  • Intimidated Witness
  • Administration for Children's Services (ACS), Family Unification and Independent Living Programs

All other Section 8 applications received will be discarded. If you are in one of the above listed categories, you may pick up a Section 8 application from any of the Housing Authority's Borough Applications Offices.

Back to top

How affordable is public housing?

As of June 1, 2004, Families in the Conventional and Section 8 programs pay no more than 30% of their family income for rent. The rent difference is subsidized by the federal
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Average family income in Conventional Public Housing is $18,334. Average monthly rent is $311.