By Sabina Mollot
On the first day of the housing lottery’s launch, thousands rushed to apply online, despite a number of complaints about glitches on the website.
The steady stream of applications followed a story on Town & Village’s blog, information being dropped at tenants’ doors by Blackstone, and emails to neighbors from management as well as the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association.
Paula Chirhart, a spokesperson for Blackstone, said while she didn’t know the exact number, thousands of people were able to get into the system online without a hitch. She declined to provide a number of applications filed at this point.
As for the reported malfunctions, it impacted fewer than one percent of users, she said, who had problems getting into the system. A few people had told Town & Village they hadn’t been sent passwords they needed to access the site. Chirhart said they were later contacted and sent temporary passwords by 4 p.m. the same day.
The lottery is a city controlled process with a website that’s being maintained by The Blackstone Group and a company called Phipps advising in the process.
The lottery, which will accept a maximum of 15,000 names for a waiting list for affordable apartments, will be open to enter through the end of the month. It isn’t clear how many of the applications have so far come from current ST/PCV residents, with Chirhart saying that information isn’t separately tracked.
As for the city’s Housing Development Corporation’s decision not to give preference to existing residents, Elizabeth Rohlfing, a spokesperson, said this was done in the interest of a fair and open process, adding that ST/PCV residents were encouraged to apply.
She added that while in some cases, lotteries can give preference to members of the community the housing is in, this is when there’s a large amount of vacancies to ensure a diverse population is included. In the case of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, apartments are only becoming available when vacated, and the city historically hasn’t applied preferences to re-rentals.
“The city made a historic commitment to preserve the affordability of 5,000 below-market apartments at Stuyvesant Town Peter Cooper Village in order to secure its legacy as a home to working and middle-class families,” said Rohlfing. “This agreement not only protects existing residents, it ensures all moderate and middle-income New Yorkers have equal opportunity to apply for affordable apartments that become available in the future.”
The preservation program has been widely cheered by local elected officials and the ST-PCV Tenants Association.
In an official statement, Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg said, “This is the next step in our efforts to preserve this community for middle class people, and we are happy the program is now up and running.”