Common Obstacles

Some groups of people in special circumstances may face obstacles when looking for permanent housing. Below is housing information specific to:

Immigrant, Undocumented or Partially Documented Families
Households with a Criminal Background
Persons with Disabilities and Seniors
Households Facing Rental Arrears and/or Eviction
Appealing Ineligibity

Immigrant, Undocumented or Partially Documented Families

  • Undocumented individuals are not eligible to receive any housing subsidy.
  • NYCHA Public Housing and Section 8 consider naturalized citizens, legal permanent residents
    (green card holders) and those granted refugee or asylum status eligible. Immigrants with other types of status (including legal status under U-Visas, VAWA prima facie status or other programs) are not eligible for public housing or section 8 assistance.

    • Families with at least one documented family member are eligible to receive NYCHA public housing and Section 8. Undocumented family members will be responsible for paying for their portion of the subsidy. For example, if a family of 4 contains an undocumented parent and 3 citizen children they will receive ¾ or 75% of the subsidy that would normally be allotted to a four person family. The family would pay 30% of their income towards rent like any other NYCHA public housing or Section 8 tenant plus the 25% of the subsidy the undocumented person cannot qualify for. If NYCHA determines that this rent burden is too much for the family, they will be found ineligible.
      Click here for a worksheet explaining how to calculate housing subsidy levels for families with undocumented members.
  • Individuals with enough immigration status to qualify for Public Assistance cash benefits (such as VAWA self petitioners and other legal immigrants) qualify for Public Assistance based subsidy programs like FHEPS.
  • In general, in order to receive employment based housing subsidy programs (like LINC I) immigrants are required to have work authorization.

Criminal Background

  • NYCHA conducts a criminal background check on every Section 8 and public housing applicant who is 16 years of age or older.
  • Criminal background ineligibility rules are stricter for applicants moving into NYCHA public housing than for Section 8.
  • Ineligibility for Section 8 and public housing extends for a maximum of 6 years after serving a sentence and any probation time.
  • If a family member or a batterer with a criminal conviction leads to the ineligibility of an applicant, the household should provide documentation – an order of protection, a lease for another apartment, a utility bill – that the individual is not living or going to be living with family.
  • Applicants that wish to appeal Section 8 or public housing denials based on criminal background can request a NYCHA informal discussion or hearing.
NYCHA Criminal Background Ineligibility Chart

Information about criminal conviction restrictions for Section 8 and public housing and the corresponding time frame for ineligibility.

Section 8 NYCHA Public Housing
Category Ineligibility Period Explanation Ineligibility Period Explanation
Felonies
CLASS A, B, or C 6 Years Ineligible until the convicted person has served the sentence, completed probation or parole, and/or paid any fines. 6 Years Ineligible until the convicted person has served the sentence, completed probation or parole, and/or paid any fines.
CLASS D or E 6 Years 5 Years
Drug and Alcohol Related Misdemeanors*
CLASS A 4 Years Ineligible until the convicted person has served the sentence, completed probation or parole, and/or paid any fines 4 Years Ineligible until the convicted person has served the sentence, completed probation or parole, and/or paid any fines.
+1 Year If three of more convictions for misdemeanors/or felonies within the last ten years
CLASS B or Unclassified 3 Years Ineligible until the convicted person has served the sentence, completed probation or parole, and/or paid any fines. 3 Years
+1 Year If three of more convictions for misdemeanors/or felonies within the last ten years
Drug and Alcohol Related Violations
2 Years Ineligible until the convicted person has served the sentence, completed probation or parole, and/or paid any fines. 2 Years Ineligible until the convicted person has served the sentence, completed probation or parole, and/or paid any fines.
+1 Year If three of more convictions for misdemeanors/or felonies within the last ten years

* Public Housing ineligibility for may include misdemeanors other than drug and alcohol related offenses.

**Public Housing ineligibility may also be found on the grounds of other conduct: Arson, Destroying Property, Violent Behavior, Disturbance to Neighbors, Grossly Unsanitary Housekeeping, or Illegal Use of Drugs.

Persons with Disabilities and Seniors

  • Persons with disabilities may be eligible for supportive housing.
  • Disabled persons residing in rent-regulated housing may qualify for the Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) which can freeze the rent paid by the tenant while providing the landlord with a tax credit equivalent to what the rent increase would have been.
  • Persons 62 years or older residing in rent-regulated housing may qualify for the Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) which can freeze the rent paid by the tenant while providing the landlord with a tax credit equivalent to what the rent increase would have been.
  • Households receiving income from SSI are eligible to apply for public housing under one of NYCHA’s working priorities.
  • SSI Recipients pay 30% of their income towards, public housing or Section 8 apartment rents.

Rental Arrears and/or Eviction

Households with eviction records may be denied NYCHA public housing. Applicants for NYCHA housing who can document prompt rent payments from the past 6 months to 1 year will be eligible but those who cannot establish an acceptable record of rent payment could be considered ineligible for NYCHA public housing for up to three years from the date printed on their ineligibility letter or until they can provide proof of timely rent payments for one full year. The exception is families on public assistance: if the family agrees to allow public assistance to send a “direct vendor payment” (meaning Public Assistance sends the rent directly to NYCHA) they can be admitted to public housing.

Households with rental arrears or facing eviction may be eligible for additional rent subsidies and/or for money from certain grant sources.

In order to receive help paying for rental arrears, the tenant facing eviction will need to establish that he or she is able to pay rent and maintain the apartment in the future.

Resources for eviction prevention include:

  • “One-Shot-Deals” – Emergency Grants from Public Assistance: To apply for an emergency grant, the tenant needs to bring documentation and explanation of the arrears and will need to provide proof of the ability to pay rent for the apartment in the future. To find out if you qualify, visit your local Job Center. You can also contact HRA’s Infoline at (718) 557-1399 for more information.
  • Homebase: Homebase is run by the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to help clients facing eviction and/or homelessness in specific community districts in New York City. Homebase helps clients apply for emergency grants and obtain funds to pay arrears and future rent.
  • United Way/Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program: The United Way receives funds from the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board program to help tenant’s pay rental arrears. There are limited funds available for this program so assistance is not guaranteed.
  • Housing Court Answers (formerly Citywide Taskforce on Housing Court): The Citywide Taskforce on Housing Court is located in the housing court of each borough. This organization also has information on eviction prevention.
  • Family Homelessness Eviction Prevention Supplement (FHEPS): Those facing eviction and receiving public assistance may qualify to receive rental assistance through this program. FHEPS applications can be filed through Legal Aid’s borough offices and specific community-based organizations in each borough.

Appealing Ineligibity: Informal Discussions and Fair Hearings

If an applicant is found ineligible for a NYCHA apartment, he or she is entitled to appeal the decision. The applicant should first have an “informal discussion” with someone in the Applications Information Division. If she is not satisfied with the results of this discussion, she should request a formal hearing. An applicant has 90 days from the date she was found ineligible to request a hearing.

Step 1: An Informal Discussion with NYCHA

If an applicant receives an “Ineligibility Notice,” the first step is to try to have an “informal discussion” with someone in the Applications Information Division.

  • The letter should state where and when to go for an informal discussion.
  • During an informal discussion, a representative will discuss the ineligibility determination with the applicant and she should receive a copy of the “Basis for Ineligibility” prepared by the Eligibility Division.
  • During this discussion, the applicant should have the opportunity to present any documents she has to support her claim of eligibility.
  • Applicants can bring a lawyer or advocate to this discussion as well if they choose.
  • On the basis of the discussion and the documents submitted by the applicant to NYCHA, the Applications Information Division may return the application file to the Eligibility Division for further investigation.
Step 2: Requesting a Formal Hearing

If after the informal discussion, the Applications Information Division has not resolved the matter to the applicant’s satisfaction, she can make a request by mail for a hearing. Applicants should be aware that any determinations made at a hearing will be final.

  • Hearings can be requested using a specific NYCHA form that should be available at their offices or one can request a hearing through a letter.
  • Requests should be submitted to the Applications Information Division within 90 days of the date of the Ineligibility Notice.
  • If the applicant plans to bring a lawyer to the hearing, she must notify NYCHA in the letter or in person when making the hearing request. (If applicants do not let them know and they are bringing a lawyer or advocate, they will not be allowed into the hearing.)
  • The hearing will be scheduled by the Division of Tenancy Administration and the applicant should receive written notice of the date, time and place of the Hearing at least 14 days before an appointment is scheduled.
Step 3: Preparing for and Attending the Informal Hearing

Hearings are held before a hearing officer appointed by NYCHA who played no role in your prior ineligibility determination.

  • Prior to the hearing, the applicant and/or her lawyer may request copies of any documents in the application file. (Documents should be provided free of charge to you by NYCHA within 5 business days of the receipt of the written request.)
  • NYCHA will first present the basis for the ineligibility determination.
  • The applicant will then have the opportunity to present her position.
  • Any information that NYCHA presents should be relevant to the grounds of ineligibility specified in the Ineligibility Notice and any decisions should be based solely on the facts presented at the hearing.
  • The hearing officer may make the following determinations:
    • Determination of ineligibility Sustained (meaning the applicant loses the hearing)
    • Determination of ineligibility Reversed (meaning the applicant wins the hearing)
  • The applicant and/or her lawyer will receive a written copy of this determination and a summarization of the facts and basis for the determination.
  • In the event that the Eligibility Determination is reversed, the hearing officer will return the application to the Department of Housing Applications for action consistent with that determination.
  • The hearing officer’s decision is final.