Why You May Want to Join the Military (To Get a Cheap NYC Apartment)


As you read in my last post, my husband and I having been living rent free in NYC 3.5 years. It’s not an easy situation to copy.

So for this of you looking for a way to afford your NYC housing you may turn to the NYC Housing Lottery for your shot at a cheap dwelling.

Why/how does the NYC Housing Lottery exist?

In NYC oftentimes when a luxury rental building is being constructed, developers will offer 20% of the units to lower-to-middle income tenants at a drastically reduced rate in order to get tax incentives...

Out of thousands of applicants only a few hundred are chosen to actually participate in the review process. They are typically chosen randomly.

The NYC Housing Lottery: All you need is a low enough income and a dream

It’s pretty low odds that you’ll be selected and it’s often quite frustrating going through the application and interview process, and then not getting chosen. Therefore, I was intrigued to read the following article about how someone was able to jump to the head of the line as a result of having served in the military:

How I won a $444 per month UWS studio in New York City’s affordable housing lottery

Not too shabby for $444/month in NYC

In July 2016, I was combing the Internet, looking for affordable housing. I ran across an article about a lottery for rental apartments opening on the Upper West Side. The rents were starting at $432.59. Not only was this in the budget, it could afford me the type of living experience I’d never had.

I followed the link provided and signed up at Housing Connect, the website run by New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), where you can search for housing lotteries. When I read that veterans are raised to the top of the list, I could hardly contain myself. I quickly hunted down my DD-214 (military discharge form) to send with the application.

I applied on July 14th. The lottery closed on Aug. 5th. In October, I got a letter in the mail telling me my position on the wait list was #27 and I needed to send in some money to secure my spot—I think the amount was $250.”

I needed the first month’s rent ($444) and a security deposit ($444) in a money order because that’s how they rolled.

My utilities are included in the rent and an air conditioner is an additional $25 per month. The building has 15 washers and 20 dryers. The building is exceptionally maintained, and the staff are like family. I really did hit the lottery!

Not only is this rental insight cheap, but the staff in the building treat him well. And judging by the photos, it’s a pretty nice place!

Other means for priority placement status?

In the earlier article mentioned, the author wrote that in her housing lottery

I was told over 10,000 applications were received and those applicants who currently lived within the same community board were given first priority along with the disabled.

Hope this article helps if you are seeking out one of these “fairytale apartment” situations in NYC, and if you have any other advice to share on this topic please do in the comments below!