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Disability-Supportive Housing in New York City

Imagine a New York City where everyone, including those with disabilities, can find a safe, supportive place to call home. This image doesn’t just exist hypothetically — it’s a reality that’s within reach thanks to the variety of housing programs available throughout the City and state. 

Still, finding affordable and supportive housing opportunities can prove challenging, especially if you’re unsure which programs can help you. 

Below, we explore some of the most popular disability housing opportunities for adults in New York City to help you get started.

Key Takeaways

  • Many kinds of supportive housing options are available for people with disabilities, including the affordable housing lottery, the disability rent freeze program, home health care services, and more.
  • Most housing options require applicants to make less than a predefined income limit each year to qualify, but not all of them. Providing medical documentation to demonstrate your disability and the needs it creates may also be necessary.
  • If you’re not sure which housing opportunities make the most sense for your needs, you can reach out to resources like the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities for guidance, information, and support.

What Housing Options Are Available for People in NYC With Disabilities?

We’re pleased to report that there are many housing opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities, including several affordable options. If you or a loved one lives with a disability, you may be eligible for one or more of the following housing or assistance programs.

Affordable Housing Lottery

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) works with the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) to create affordable housing opportunities for households of all sizes. These subsidized apartments are listed for sale or rent using a randomized lottery system. This process, known as the “affordable housing lottery,” has been designed to ensure that units are distributed fairly.

To join the lottery, you must first sign up for a NYC Housing Connect account. NYC Housing Connect is the online portal that handles all affordable housing advertisements and applications. 

Once you’ve created your account as instructed, you’ll be ready to browse through listings that interest you and start applying. You’ll be eligible for the unit in question if your application is chosen during the lottery.

Disability Set-Aside Units

Subsidized housing developments are required to set aside a certain number of units for those with disabilities that affect mobility, vision, or hearing. These homes or apartments, known as “disability set-aside units,” are supplemented with federal funding. 

7% of units in a development must be set aside for individuals with disabilities; 5% of those are reserved for people with disabilities affecting mobility, while the remaining 2% are for those with hearing or vision disabilities.

However, it is possible to have a disability and qualify for housing support but not be eligible for a set-aside unit. Applicants with a disability that does not affect their mobility, vision, or hearing can still apply for affordable housing in the general lottery mentioned above.

Alternatively, if a household applies to the affordable housing lottery and has a member with an eligible disability, their application can be considered for both set-aside units and any other units in the development.

Mitchell-Lama Housing

Mitchell-Lama housing developments are City-sponsored housing options designed for moderate- and middle-income households. Their units are sold or rented through waiting lists that each development maintains. 

Not only are these housing opportunities potentially more affordable, but they also have a special benefit for veterans rising in NYC. 

Eligible veteran applicants may be entitled to a preference for available units in developments with an open waiting list.

Long-Term Residential Facilities

Long-term residential programs can offer adults with disabilities housing and necessary care or support in the same place. Some programs may take place in an outside facility, but others can be applied to a person’s existing living situation. Below are some common examples of long-term residential options for adults with disabilities:

  • Assisted Living Programs: These programs offer residents personal and home health care services in addition to housing.
  • Enriched Housing Programs: These offer care and support to older adults living in government-subsidized or non-profit apartment buildings.
  • Home Care Services: Instead of moving to long-term care facilities, some adults with disabilities can access the support they need to live safely at their current home via home health care. These support services bring a home health aide or a caregiver to a person’s home to help them meet their needs without sacrificing independent living.

Private Housing Accommodations

If low-income or other disability housing options aren’t a good fit, you may be able to access a space that still meets your needs by requesting reasonable accommodations. 

You can choose to ask a private landlord or building owner to provide a reasonable accommodation due to your disability.

Under the NYC Human Rights Law, housing providers are legally required to provide these changes to you at no cost (as long as the work does not create an “undue burden”). For example, if you’re interested in moving into a private apartment but need lower countertops because you use a wheelchair, your landlord must work with you to make your request a reality.

Other Options

Aside from the housing options listed above, there are a few more programs and offices you can turn to for support. Some of the most relevant examples for adults with disabilities include the following:

  • Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) and Rent Freeze Program: People with disabilities living in eligible apartments in NYC can have their rent frozen to prevent future price increases and make housing more affordable. To apply, you must be at least 18 years old and receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or disability-related Medicaid. Your household’s total combined income must also be less than $50,000.
  • HomeBase: This program, run by the NYC Department of Social Services, is aimed at homelessness prevention. Community-based organizations provide services to help individuals avoid homelessness and receive appropriate support if they experience it.
  • Section 8 Tenant-Based Vouchers: These are available through the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and HCR and can help adults with disabilities pay for rent in certain housing developments.

Who Qualifies for Supportive Housing in NYC?

Whether you qualify for disability-supportive housing in NYC will depend on the type of support or housing you’re applying for. 

In most cases, you’ll have to meet income eligibility requirements and may be asked to provide documentation that describes the nature of your disability. 

For the HPD housing lottery, for example, interested individuals must make less than each housing development’s income limit to apply. For set-aside units, an applicant must have a disability affecting mobility, vision, or hearing. 

Be sure to review the eligibility requirements for the program or housing opportunities you’re considering before you submit any applications.

Resources for Disability-Supportive Housing in NYC

Learn more about disability-supportive housing, how to apply for it, and what you need to do to access the services you need using these helpful resources.

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