New Yorkers Who Need Help With Rent Can (Finally) Join a List for Help

For the first time in 15 years, thousands of people who cannot afford to live in New York City may be able to get financial help through a highly sought-after federal program. The New York City Housing Authority reopened a waiting list for housing choice vouchers, also known as Section 8, after it closed in December 2009 with over 128,000 families seeking assistance. Now, with the waiting list reduced to 3,700 households, NYCHA has decided to reopen it.

Vouchers provided through the Section 8 program assist over five million people nationwide, with New York City having one of the largest populations using the program. Nearly a quarter of a million lower-income New Yorkers rent apartments on the private market with the help of these vouchers. The program allows individuals to spend a maximum of 30 percent of their income on rent, with the government covering the rest.

While the vouchers can be a lifeline for lower-income families, finding apartments where they can be utilized has become increasingly difficult. In 2018, over 70 percent of families with children were able to find a rental unit within a year. However, by 2022, this number had dropped to 58 percent due to the severe housing shortage and landlords’ reluctance to accept tenants with vouchers. A city survey revealed a rental vacancy rate of 1.4 percent in 2023, the lowest in over 50 years, especially for more affordable apartments.

The reopening of the waiting list for Section 8 vouchers provides hope for many New Yorkers struggling to afford the city’s high rent prices. As the program continues to assist those in need, challenges remain in finding available apartments to utilize the vouchers effectively.