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Your Rights as a NYCHA resident

By: NYLAG Interim Supervising Attorney Sophie Cohen & Coordinating Senior Attorney Miles Walser

For the millions who call the Big Apple home, the New York City Housing (NYCHA) serves as a vital lifeline, providing affordable housing options to qualifying individuals and families. However, navigating the complexities of housing regulations and understanding one’s rights as a NYCHA resident has historically been a challenge.

Last year marked a significant turning point in the realm of housing transparency as NYCHA took a step forward by publicly releasing its Admissions and Continues Occupancy Plan (ACOP) for public notice and comment. The ACOP is a public-facing document that outlines a Public Housing Authority’s policies and procedures. For years there was no easily accessible way for NYCHA residents, housing advocates, or anyone for that matter to know what NYCHA rules were and if they were breaking them — but after more than a year of NYLAG’s advocacy efforts alongside our community partners, this finally changed with the publication of NYCHA’s ACOP.

While the ACOP is understandably comprehensive in outlining all the rights governing NYCHA residents’ housing and living conditions, here are four fundamental rights that come up most frequently in our Public Housing Justice Project work — which are crucial for residents to know:

  1. Every NYCHA resident has the right to repair(s). Everyone has the right to live in a safe and habitable environment. This includes timely repairs to their apartment to address any maintenance issues that may arise. Whether it’s a leaky faucet, or broken window, residents have the right to request repairs and expect prompt action from management. If NYCHA is not responding to ticket requests, residents can file housing court cases (HP actions) seeking a judicial order requiring NYCHA to make prompt repairs.
  2. NYCHA residents have the right to have their rent set according to their household’s current income. This ensures that housing remains affordable and equitable for all residents, regardless of financial circumstances. Residents who have recently experienced a change in income can request an interim recertification to ensure that their apartment remains affordable.
  3. NYCHA residents have the right to grieve management decisions  in instances where residents disagree with management decisions or believe their rights have been violated, they have the right to grieve these issues through a formal process. Residents can file grievances online through the resident portal or on paper by visiting the management office. 
  4. NYCHA residents facing termination proceedings have the right to legal representation. Legal representation can make a significant difference in ensuring a fair and just resolution to housing disputes, protecting residents from wrongful eviction or other adverse outcomes. If you do not have a lawyer and are facing a termination of tenancy at the Office of Impartial Hearings, you can ask for your case to be adjourned in order for you to seek counsel.

Still experiencing trouble or have questions?

You can read NYCHA’s full ACOP here. For those experiencing challenges enforcing their rights or navigating the intricacies of NYCHA regulations, assistance is readily available. Contact (212) 946-0353 or email phreferrals@nylag.org for support.

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