Better Than the Powerball – The New York Times

Better Than the Powerball – The New York Times

Erika Lindsey is nothing if not persistent. Ms. Lindsey, 36, spent eight years applying to housing lotteries before she won her dream home.

In 2010, she was working as a senior policy adviser and urban planner for the city and living in a fourth-floor walk-up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. “My neighbors in Bed-Stuy were leaving for East New York because the rent was going up,” she said. “And it was stressful always having to sign a new lease.”

So Ms. Lindsey, who is now a design research fellow at the Public Policy Lab, a job that puts her in an income range of $85,000 to $95,000, looked into the housing lottery. She was hopeful about her prospects, as she was a municipal employee and would also benefit from the preference for community residents when she applied for buildings in Brooklyn. Even so, it was tough going.

Seven years into her lottery odyssey, in June 2017, Ms. Lindsey finally received a notice that she had made it to the interview phase at 250 Ashland Place, a 52-story rental tower just off Fulton Street. The following month she was put on a wait list for a unit, but “then it was radio silence,” she said. “I never got a response. I had to keep calling and asking, ‘Any word? Any update?’”

Then she heard from another lottery, for a rent-stabilized building on Carlton Avenue, where she interviewed for an apartment. As in all fully regulated buildings, the 297 units there were being offered to a wide range of incomes, from a single person earning $20,126 annually to a family of six with an income of $173,415. In January 2018, she moved into a sizable one-bedroom with a large bathroom.

Because Ms. Lindsey’s income is at the upper end of the range for one person, she faced less competition than others in the housing lottery. In fact, the building struggled to find people who qualified for the rent-stabilized apartments with higher income requirements. The developer eventually listed some of the units on the website StreetEasy, where most homes are market rate, in a bid to attract tenants.

The rents on apartments like Ms. Lindsey’s can be nearly as expensive as those found on the open market, if not more so. But as the city sees it, having a mix of incomes helps create a more diverse building, and higher-income units also help landlords offset the cost of providing apartments to lower-income tenants.

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