Affordable Housing

NYC agrees to cut percentage of housing lottery units set aside for nearby residents

  • The move caps a 2015 lawsuit that argued community preference is discriminatory
  • Units reserved for residents will be reduced from 50 percent to 15 percent by 2029
By Jennifer White Karp  |
January 23, 2024 - 9:30AM
view of downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan

Denying New Yorkers affordable housing outside their neighborhood is a violation of the Fair Housing Act, plaintiffs said.


A major change is coming for New York City’s housing lotteries that dole out rent-stabilized apartments in brand new developments where developers receive tax breaks.

Under the terms of a lawsuit settlement approved Monday by Manhattan Federal Judge Laura Taylor Swain, the city will end its practice of setting aside 50 percent of units in each lottery for residents already residing in the community district. Taking effect in three months, the portion set aside for community preference will drop to 20 percent until May 1st, 2029, when it will decrease to 15 percent.

The lawsuit, filed in 2015 by attorney Craig Gurian, executive director of the Anti-Discrimination Center, on behalf of two Black New Yorkers, Shauna Noel and Emmanuella Senat, argued that community preference has a "disparate impact against African American and Hispanic New Yorkers, perpetuates segregation and constitutes intentional discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act, and New York City Human Rights Law."

For example, Black New Yorkers who live outside a majority white neighborhood would be at a disadvantage when applying to a lottery there.

As part of the settlement, the city will pay the plaintiffs $100,000 each and pay more than $6 million to cover attorneys’ fees for the plaintiffs.

'An important victory'

The resolution "marks an important victory" against "neo-segregationists" and "officials in prior administrations who allowed themselves to be influenced in shaping policy by those malign influences," Gurian tells Brick.

That reference includes the de Blasio administration, which used significant resources filing unsuccessful legal motions to kill the lawsuit.

By March 1st, NYC will add a new statement to NYC Housing Connect, the portal for housing lottery applications: “New York City is committed to the principle of inclusivity in all of its neighborhoods, including supporting New Yorkers to reside in neighborhoods of their choice, regardless of their neighborhood of origin and regardless of the neighborhood into which they want to move.” 

The settlement indicates that the city is "required to turn away from the discredited politics of racial turf and are required to tell applicants and prospective applicants that all of our neighborhoods need to be belong to all of us," Gurian says.



Jennifer White Karp

Managing Editor

Jennifer steers Brick Underground’s editorial coverage of New York City residential real estate and writes articles on market trends and strategies for buyers, sellers, and renters. Jennifer’s 15-year career in New York City real estate journalism includes stints as a writer and editor at The Real Deal and its spinoff publication, Luxury Listings NYC.

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