HPD and DSS Announce Pilot Program to Renovate Chronically Vacant Rent Stabilized Units

Image Credit: NYC HPD

On December 18, 2023, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Department of Social Services announced the start of a new pilot program that helps New Yorkers move out of shelters and into renovated rent-stabilized apartments. The program, Unlocking Doors, is now accepting applications from owners of rent-stabilized buildings with rental units that need repairs. 

The pilot program will invest up to $10 million to renovate rent stabilized apartments that have been unoccupied for over two years and that need repairs to become habitable. The program incentivizes owners of buildings with these chronically vacant units to renovate and make that unit available to a New Yorker who has previously experienced homelessness. Tenants will receive a CityFHEPS voucher and will spend no more than 30 percent of their income for rent, allowing the City to help move more people out of shelters and into stable housing. 

Owners of eligible units can apply for pre-approval on the Department of Housing Preservation and DEvelopment’s website. After owners receive pre-approval for up to $25,000 for repairs, they will have up to six months to complete the pre-approved repairs. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development will inspect the unit and building and the building must meet CityFHEPS inspection standards. If the inspection passes, the owner will be referred to the Department of Social Services to begin the CityFHEPS lease-up process. After the unit has been leased to a voucher recipient, the City will provide the pre-approved reimbursement for the repair work with the first voucher payment. 

To qualify, units may have a maximum rent of no more than $1,200 for a studio or one-bedroom, $1,300 for a two-bedroom, and $1,400 for a three-bedroom unit. The allocated funding for the pilot program allows for up to 400 unit renovations based on a first come, first served basis. 

For more information about the program and how to apply, click here.

First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright stated, “The Unlocking Doors initiative serves a twofold purpose: adding much needed units to the City’s housing stock and serving New Yorkers in need. This pilot demonstrates a strategic approach to repairing vacant, rent-regulated apartments while providing sustainable solutions for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness. Through this innovative initiative, the Adams administration both is serving New Yorkers today and preparing for the New Yorkers of tomorrow.” 

DSS Commissioner Molly Wasow Park stated, “New York City’s lack of affordable housing remains one of the primary barriers to moving families and individuals experiencing homelessness into safe and stable long-term housing. This program will help us maximize the utility of the city’s existing stock of rent-stabilized apartments by bringing vacant affordable units back online and connecting New Yorkers experiencing homelessness with CityFHEPS vouchers directly to these freshly renovated units. We look forward to working closely with our agency partners and property owners to support this administration’s goal of expanding housing opportunities for our vulnerable neighbors.” 

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the Editor of CityLand and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)



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