City Announces Affordable Housing Credit Checks No Longer Needed for Tenants Using Rental Assistance Vouchers

Image Credit: NYC HPD

On October 5, 2023, Mayor Eric Adams, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), and the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) announced that households using housing vouchers will no longer have their credit checked during the process of affordable housing selection. A renter who is using rental assistance vouchers is guaranteed to pay rent either through a rental subsidy which they are qualified for or connected to the affordable unit. It is an unnecessary and moot burden for candidates to have their credit score checked when their rent will be paid regardless.

This announcement comes in the wake of Mayor Adams’ ‘Housing our Neighbors’ plan aimed at getting New Yorkers into affordable housing as quickly as possible. Eliminating the credit check step in the process of acquiring affordable housing under Section 8 or CityFHEPS through Housing Connect for HPD or HDC subsidized homes impacts a vast number of New Yorkers. This includes those who are looking for rental subsidies and those escaping homelessness. Further, no credit check will leave applicants’ credit scores untouched.

This barring of credit checks during the affordable housing application process is housed in the HPD-HDC Marketing Handbook. The amendment bars conducting credit checks, using credit score information, or requiring rental history in the place of a credit check by marketing agents when determining who is eligible for vouchers. The shift in language ensures that applicants are not dismissed solely based on bankruptcy, delinquencies, collections, money judgments, or liens. Those who may need affordable housing the most, people with low credit scores and those experiencing financial hardships, will be able to get housing faster with less prejudice.

Mayor Adams said, “Every New Yorker knows we don’t have enough affordable homes, but once you find one, the city should do everything in its power to give you the keys as quickly as possible. Once again, we are taking bold action to make that a reality by no longer requiring New Yorkers to undergo a credit check when selected for affordable housing. This one change will help more than 4,000 New York families move more quickly into a home and take the next step towards building a more supported life.”

Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom said, “If an individual or a family holds a housing voucher, they should be able to secure their new home with as smooth a process as possible. Today’s announcement cuts additional red tape by eliminating credit checks for voucher holders and enables them to transition more quickly into stable housing.  It is yet another step the Adams administration is taking to realize our goal of making a permanent home a reality for every New Yorker.”

New York State Assemblymember Tony Simone said, “One of the most difficult aspects of navigating affordable housing programs in New York is the long wait times and red tape that are a part of the process. The decision today to remove the superfluous credit check requirement will make applying for housing easier, shorten wait times, and ensure that people get the access to housing they desperately need.”

Mayor’s Office, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and New York City Housing Development Corporation: “Mayor Adams, HPD Commissioner Carrión Take Action To Connect New Yorkers To Affordable Housing More Quickly, Eliminate Unnecessary Credit CHeckers For Voucher Holders” (Oct. 5, 2023). 

By: Meg Beauregard (Meg is the CityLaw intern, and a New York Law School student, Class of 2024).

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