Is New York City The Land Of Broken Dreams? How To Be A NYC Home Owner Against All Odds

By Team Agorafy August 25, 2016
Photo courtesy of Dennis Williams /

Affordable housing was the main course on Mayor de Blasio’s administrative menu when he took office back in 2014. His promise was to house the city that never sleeps (possibly because some New Yorkers can’t even afford a place to sleep) and create at least 200,000 units in over a decade. In this last fiscal year ending June 30, more affordable housing units were made available than ever before since 1989, totaling 23,284 units city-wide. A commendable effort Mr. Mayor, but there’s still a long way to go.

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There are strict parameters in order to qualify for affordable housing. You have to be one person making less than $31,100 a year, or $40,800 for a family of three. This would qualify you for what’s called middle-income affordable housing. To qualify for low-income affordable housing, the restrictions would be one person making up to $19,050, or a family of three bringing home $24,500 annually. So if you’re a New Yorker that falls into one of these categories with a dream of home ownership, you may have a better shot at finding an open register at Whole Foods.

We all know the words ‘affordable’ and ‘housing’ don’t necessarily go together in New York City. According to the new report on homeownership by Citi and NYU’s Furman Center, if you’re not among the city’s 22 percent uber-rich residents wanting to purchase, you’re screwed. While the study doesn’t use those exact words, you get the gist. The facts are more tactful—but equally heartbreaking—in describing the current dilemma of home ownership which less-than-wealthy New Yorkers face.

The homeownership rate in New York City is roughly half than that in the rest of the country. What’s more, only 31 percent of households in NYC is owned, compared to 63 percent of households in the rest of the US. And in 2014, out of those households making up to $55,000 annually, only 25 percent were owned, compared to 58 percent making the same income, nation-wide.

Related: How Do The Richest People In The US Buy Their Houses? It Might Not Be As You Expect.

As if that’s not enough of a downer, try this on for size: if you earned the respectable living wage of $83,000 a year, as 66 percent of New Yorkers do (the median New York City household earns $53,063) you could only afford 22 percent of houses that were for sale in the city in 2014. People earning a little over that median wage could afford a meager 9 percent of homes for sale in 2014.

Now before this article makes you need to get a prescription for anti-depressants, there may be a light at the end of the dark home-owning tunnel. With some due diligence along with prayers offered up to the housing gods, a solution may be found with SONYMA (State of New York Mortgage Agency) and AHC. They offer programs that provide help for low and moderate income New Yorkers dreaming of homeownership. Through certain programs, SONYMA offers those who qualify a chance for a mortgage with using as little of 1% of their own money. They also provide low-interest mortgages for first-time homebuyers, including assistance for down payments. While some say the streets of New York are paved with broken dreams, it may not be time yet to give them up entirely. Well, it might be time to give up on your punk band, but home ownership could still be in your future.

Team Agorafy



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