NYC Rules Ease Affordable Housing Path for Undocumented Migrants

Henry Goldman

(Bloomberg) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio is making it easier for New York City’s undocumented immigrants to qualify for scarce city-subsidized affordable housing.

New eligibility rules de Blasio unveiled scrap credit-rating, Social Security and taxpayer identification requirements if applicants can show 12 consecutive monthly rent payments.

“For too long, families without access to credit have faced barriers to the affordable housing they need,” de Blasio said Wednesday. “By allowing New Yorkers to submit rental history instead of credit checks, we are creating a fairer system for all New Yorkers.”

The mayor’s goal of creating or preserving 300,000 units of affordable housing by 2026 has been one of his signature programs, which he’s touted while campaigning for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. The city’s 500,000 undocumented immigrants would be able to participate in a lottery that already attracts more than 500 applicants for each available unit, said Bitta Mostofi, commissioner for the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.

Unlike federal housing programs that bar undocumented immigrants from applying for U.S. funded public or subsidized housing, they were never legally disqualified from city housing programs, said Margy Brown, associate commissioner for housing opportunity in the city’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development. By ending credit-rating requirements, there’s no need for an applicant to provide Social Security and taxpayer documents, making it easier for non-citizens to qualify, she said.

“We are committed to ensuring that New Yorkers across the board have equal access to affordable housing,” she said.

The new policy was criticized as “a really bad idea” by Howard Husock, vice president for research and publications, at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative policy research group. “People who consistently pay their bills should be rewarded for their efforts, especially when property owners are being asked to take less-than-market rent, and deserve assurance they will get paid,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Goldman in New York at hgoldman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Flynn McRoberts at fmcroberts1@bloomberg.net, Michael B. Marois, William Selway

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