What Is Public Housing?

Public housing are apartments owned by the New York City Housing Authority that are rented to people with low to moderate incomes. These apartments’ rents are 30% of the household’s total income, which allows each household to pay what they can afford. The NYCHA owns, approximately, 328 public house developments in NYC that house over 400,000 people. Because of the high demand of these apartments, the waiting list is extremely long, with over 250,000 applicants. Applicants who are chosen are those who are deemed higher priority than others, such as those who live or work in New York, have disabilities, currently live in shelters, have small children, are victims of domestic violence, etc.

Public housing is not the same as the Section 8 Program. Section 8 deals with privately owned apartments and landlords. The majority of housing developments include gas and electric with the rent. For the few developments that don’t, a utility allowance will be deducted from the rent each month in order to help residents pay

Senior Public Housing

People who are 62 or older have the option to choose to live in a partially or exclusively senior facility. To qualify for senior housing, the head or co-head of the household must be 62 or older, as well as all other members of the household.

While the public housing application process does not allow for applicants to choose their preferred resident, those who qualify for senior housing may respond yes when asked on the application if they would like to be considered for senior housing.

Applying To Public Housing


Eligible applicants must:

  • Be 18 or over or be an emancipated minor
  • Have at least one household member who is a US citizen or a non-citizen with eligible immigration status
  • Have a household income equal or below the incomes listed on the NYCHA website, found here.  

Applicants do not have to have children, an income, or be a New York residents to apply, but, those who live or work in NYC are prioritized. You can apply for public housing even if you are already on the waiting list for Section 8, and vice versa. But, if you receive an apartment through one program, your application for the other will be greatly reduced in priority.

Filing The Application

Public housing applications can be done online at www1.nyc.gov/site/nycha/eligibility/apply.page or in person at a NYCHA walk-in-center, which can be found here. When applying, the applicant will be able to choose their first and second borough choice, but cannot apply for a specific development. You will be required to provide your total household income, family makeup, and current living situation.

Applications do not require any personal documentation. All official information will be verified afterwards. You should never pay to fill out a public housing application. Those applications are scams and should be reported to the NYCHA’s inspector general at (212) 306-3355.

Application Status

Once you apply, you should receive a letter within 2 weeks that tells you of your assigned housing priority. If, after 2 weeks, you have not received the letter, call the NYCHA customer care center at (718) 707-7771 (Open Monday – Friday, 8am to 5pm).

After submitting the application, you may be called for an eligibility interview, though there is no estimation as to when you may be called. After the interview, you may be selected to be preliminarily eligible for public housing and will be put on a borough or development waiting list. When an apartment opens, you and everyone in your household over the age of 16 will have criminal background checks. If all is well, you will receive the apartment. If anyone does not pass the admittance requirements, then you will not receive the apartment, and you will receive a letter instructing you on how to proceed from there.

Applicants who are listed as the head of household can register at the NYCHA Self-Service Portal (selfserve.nycha.info) to keep track of their application. Application information, like phone numbers, emails, and prefered boroughs can be updated through the site. To add or remove an income or family member, you must complete a new application.

To remain on the waiting list, applicants must reapply every 24 months.


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