Getting ready to apply for affordable housing takes time, and it involves more than just filling out paperwork. Each building has different income qualifications and required materials, which can make putting together a strong application confusing. What exactly is affordable housing, and what does it take to qualify to live in it? How much money should you save and what kind of credit do you need to have? 

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) and the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) approached CUP to help create Ready, Set, Apply!, a guide to applying for affordable housing subsidized by HPD and the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC). This guide lays out each step of the application process, how to organize a strong application for an affordable housing unit, and provides referrals to other resources that can support your application. 

Financial empowerment and preparedness is a key part of preparing an affordable housing application. In addition to explaining how to apply for affordable housing, Ready, Set, Apply! provides concrete steps that low- to moderate-income people can take to strengthen their financial profile before even starting their applications. 

Download your copy of the booklet here.

Spanish translation of this project is available here

CUP has since partnered with HPD to translate the guide into sixteen additional languages, Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (Traditional), Chinese (Simplified), French, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Polish, Punjabi, Russian, Urdu, Yiddish, and Yoruba. You can download all the translations here

Resources & Links

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) is the largest municipal housing preservation and development agency in the nation. The agency’s mission is to promote the construction and preservation of affordable, high quality housing for low- and moderate-income families in thriving and diverse neighborhoods in every borough by enforcing housing quality standards, financing affordable housing development and preservation, and ensuring sound management of the City’s affordable housing stock.

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. DCA licenses more than 81,000 businesses in more than 50 industries and enforces key consumer protection, licensing, and workplace laws that apply to countless more.


  • CUP
  • Mark Torrey
    • New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development
    • Elizabeth Greenstein
    • Emily Osgood
    • New York City Department of Consumer Affairs
    • Kimberly Goulart
    • Designer
    • Maison Papercut
    • Illustrator
    • Rebecca Clarke


    Nueva guía para obtener acceso a vivienda popular
    • NY1 Noticias
    • January 12, 2017

    “No es solo el problema de viviendas asequibles, sino también es el problema de mejorar las situaciones financieras de los neoyorquinos, y entonces de esa idea nació ese proyecto”, señaló Oscar Núñez, del Centro de Pedagogía Urbana.

    Agencies Create New Guide on Steps to Take to Apply for Affordable Housing and Putting Together a Strong Application
    • NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development
    • January 10, 2017

    Based on the initial findings, HPD, DCA and the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), with support from Citi Foundation and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, also created Ready, Set, Apply: Getting Ready for Affordable Housing in NYC (Spanish), a friendly and approachable guide outlining the steps to apply for affordable housing and how to prepare a strong application.