Affordable Housing

'Affordable' $2,100 studios in East Harlem highlight an oddity of the housing lottery

By Nathan Tempey  | January 9, 2018 - 12:00PM

The lottery apartments are renting for only a few hundred dollars less than the market-rate luxury ones in the same building.


The city has opened applications for 10 apartments in East Harlem through the housing lottery, but the apartments aren't particularly cheap for the neighborhood.

The apartments are part of an eight-story, 32-unit building at 111 East 115th St. The lottery apartments are studios and one and two bedrooms, set aside for households making $71,966-$124,020, multiples of the neighborhood median income of $32,500. The rents start at $2,099 for a studio, and go up to $2,716 for a two bedroom, whereas the median rent for active listings on StreetEasy in the neighborhood at the moment is a comparable $2,399. Indeed, the lottery apartments are only around $100-$400 less than what the non-regulated apartments are renting for in the same, otherwise high-end building.

The strange phenomenon of a developer collecting tax breaks for "affordable" housing such as this owes in part to the use of the area median income, a federal housing subsidy calculation that incorporates affluent suburbs around New York City when determining the figure off of which various income levels are based. Even still, these particular apartments are reserved for people making 130 percent of the area median income, making them upper-upper-middle-class, at least on paper.

If other lottery developments with high income requirements are any indicator, the owners of 111 East 115th may have trouble filling these units. A recent City Limits report found that nearly 100 apartments in the Brooklyn development formerly known as Atlantic Yards were still vacant a year after they became available, presumably because the higher-income people eligible to take them could afford something else for a similar amount with way less paperwork involved.

Still, if you did end up in one of these East Harlem apartments, you would have the benefit of a rent-stabilized lease, which would let you go to sleep at night knowing that however crazy rents get in the neighborhood, yours can only increase by a small amount set by the city each year.

Full income and pricing details for the apartments are here: 


The building has a gym, a terrace, a package room, and a washer and dryer in each apartment. It also has a part-time doorman, and common storage. The gym and storage are subject to fees.

The building is two blocks from the 116th Street 6 station. 

If you are in fact interested and think you might qualify for one of these apartments, you can create a profile and apply online via NYC Housing Connect. Don't apply more than once, or you could be disqualified.

Note: Brick Underground is in no way affiliated with New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development or the Housing Development Corporation. If you are interested in applying to this or other affordable housing developments, please go to the NYC Housing Connect website for information and instructions.




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