NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development

Affordable Housing

What services would help New Yorkers better understand how to apply for affordable housing?

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Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers apply for government-subsidized housing units each year. But at the time we launched this program, in 2012, it was not unusual for more than half the applicants for a particular development to be ineligible for the unit they were applying for. Working with agency staff, housing developers, community-based organizations, and members of the public, we collaboratively developed a set of new informational materials about the affordable housing process. Crucially, we also designed three new community-based, public/private distribution channels for New Yorkers to access affordable housing information in the context of their daily lives.


Initial pilot testing and evaluation of the new materials and distribution channels in 2014 demonstrated the success of these new services: Of more than 2,000 New Yorkers surveyed, an overwhelming majority said the new materials helped them understand the affordable housing application process and increased their awareness of affordable housing opportunities.

Since 2015, the informational materials have been translated into six languages, and millions of copies have been downloaded and distributed. Meanwhile, HPD has expanded the Housing Ambassador community outreach strategy and is bringing in professional design assistance on a growing range of projects.

Video Credit: NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development

Public & Collaborative: Designing Services for Housing — a project of Parsons DESIS Labs, the Public Policy Lab, and the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development — was made possible through the generous support of a 2012 New York City Cultural Innovation Fund grant awarded by The Rockefeller Foundation.

Using a range of qualitative and quantitative assessments–including results from a survey of nearly 2,500 New Yorkers–the evaluation team looked both at the process by which each of four pilot proposals was implemented and also the outcomes and impacts of those activities:

Project Team

Liana Dragoman
Kristina Drury
Andrew Eickmann
Yasmin Fodil
Kaja Kühl
Ben Winter