Pilot Program Offers Cash to Renovate Long Vacant Rent-Stabilized Units

HPD and the Department of Social Services (DSS) recently announced the launch of a new pilot program called “Unlocking Doors.” The program is intended to address the city’s housing and homelessness crisis by helping New Yorkers move out of shelters and into newly renovated, rent-stabilized apartments. 

One level deeper: The program will invest up to $10 million to renovate distressed rent-stabilized units and then connect New Yorkers experiencing homelessness with access to those homes. 

According to the city, it will provide up to $25,000 for qualifying repairs for up to 400 rent-stabilized units that are currently vacant and unavailable for rent. After the repairs are complete, NYC’s Human Resources Administration will match the rehabilitated apartments with households with City Fighting Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement (CityFHEPS) vouchers and distribute the reimbursement to the apartment’s owner.

What you need to know: Interested owners of eligible rent-regulated apartments can apply for pre-approval through HPD’s website here. Funding for the renovations will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Owners may renovate up to three low-cost units per building that have been registered with the DHCR as vacant in both 2022 and 2023. To receive funding, the maximum legal rent for each unit may be no more than $1,200 for a studio or one-bedroom unit; $1,300 for a two-bedroom unit; and up to $1,400 for three- or more bedroom units. 

After receiving pre-approval for up to $25,000 to repair eligible units, owners will have up to six months to complete their pre-approved repairs and inform HPD of completion. Once notified, HPD will inspect the pre-approved unit and building according to CityFHEPS inspection standards. 

If the unit and building pass inspection, HPD will refer the owner to DSS-DHS to start the CityFHEPS lease-up process. After the unit has been leased to a CityFHEPS voucher recipient, DSS-HRA will provide the pre-approved reimbursement for repair work in conjunction with the first CityFHEPS payment.