Affordable Apartment Primer

Affordable housing is a top priority for our NYC veterans community, and we get frequent questions from veterans who need help with navigating NYC’s rental market. Below is information intended to inform our community and assist them with improving their situation; this list is not exhaustive.

Note: Thanks for making this our top-visited webpage! We've updated resources listed here as of March 2020. 

NEW: Need help in NYC with housing, food, money, or work? Go to ACCESS NYC for a quick screening for more than 30 programs that you and your family may be eligible for.


NY State Housing Search Search for available affordable home and apartment rentals in New York State and New York City.

NYC Connect View available affordable NYC apartments in NYC, apply for housing lotteries, and learn more from NYC government’s portal for apartment seekers.

Mitchell Lama Mitchell Lama is an older affordable housing program started in the 1950s that offers veterans preference in lotteries for affordable apartment rentals and co-op purchases. Fewer buildings participate in this program, but the veterans preference may make applying for these lotteries worthwhile. 

Low-Income Housing Help For those with low incomes, who are re-entering society following incarceration, who have mental or psychiatric disabilities, or other specific situations making housing especially difficult--an array of housing lotteries and nonprofit programs may be able to help. 

Veteran at Risk of Eviction? NYC government's "Homebase" program may be able to help.

Veteran-Specific NYC Housing Help Veterans and family members at risk of homelessness may be eligible for Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) assistance or other aid. Contact VetConnectNYC to learn more or call 1-833-838-7692.


DID YOU KNOW? If you are disabled (including ANY service-connected disability rating by the VA, which qualifies as “federal disability assistance”) AND if you live in rent controlled or stabilized housing AND you meet low-income criteria, you may be eligible for NYC’s rent freeze program for disabled persons. If you are elderly, low-income, and living in rent controlled or stabilized housing, you may be eligible for NYC’s rent freeze program for seniors. Learn more and apply:


Am I Rent Stabilized? About half of NYC apartments are rent stabilized, yet an estimated 45% of tenants in these apartments are being illegally overcharged. Are you one of them? Go to and enter your address to find out. If an immediate answer isn’t on file, the site walks you through the process of requesting rent history on your apartment so you can see if you’re being charged higher than what is legally permitted. (Note: rental histories are kept on file by NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal, but are not tracked or investigated unless a tenant files a complaint.)

J-51 Buildings. One among many reasons why tenants are being overcharged is a lapse in J-51 abatement requirements—which permitted landlords to raise the rents of 50,000 rent-stabilized apartments for years before being ruled illegal—but many landlords never reverted back to legal rent amounts, and NYS DHCR hasn’t enforced the ruling. Read more on J-51 at ProPublica, and find out if your building might be a J-51.

Think you’re being overcharged in a rent-stabilized apartment? Housing Rights Initiative can help. Reach out to [email protected] or 646-699-8980.


Landlord & Building Ratings. Want to see how your past, present, or prospective landlord rates according to official city data? Rentlogic is a new online tool that empowers tenants with data collected by NYC government on each landlord and building. Properties are still being added, and you can help by writing a review. We’d especially like to see our community adding reviews to Rentlogic mentioning veteran-specific housing issues like HUD-VASH, GI Bill, and VA disability/pension acceptance.

Tenant Protections. Know your rights! See the Overview of Landlord-Tenant Laws in NY State and NYC Tenants’ Rights and Responsibilities. Facing eviction? You're entitled to a free lawyer in NYC. Visit Eviction Free NYC.

Help & Answers. The Metropolitan Council on Housing has a listing of resources, plus a hotline, that offers a wealth of resources for tenants experiencing problems and needing information.

Keep the Heat On. NYC landlords are required to keep apartment temperatures above 55 degrees at night and 68 degrees during the day between October 1 and May 31, but thousands of New Yorkers go through the winter with inadequate or no heat, and fear retaliation from landlords if they complain to 311. Heatseek is a nonprofit program that places heat sensors to track and transmit impartial, continuous data to hold landlords accountable. Learn more here:

Request Repairs, Report Harassment. The City's process for tenants to report apartment/building issues and landlord harassment or neglect can be long and complicated. It also often favors landlords. is a nonprofit organization that makes web-based tools to make these processes simpler, faster, and possible to do from your phone, laptop, or anywhere there is internet or texting access. Get started at:

Using 311. All New Yorkers can call 311 for information and to register complaints, and we advise callers to record the confirmation number(s) given to them by the 311 operator they speak with as documentation for further action.

Resolve Your Complaint. You can register a NYC housing complaint by calling 311, but you can also seek resolution by contacting the NYC Public Advocate at [email protected] or 212-669-7250.