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Up to 50,000 People Applied for Cheap Chelsea Apartments, Officials Say

By Mathew Katz | August 12, 2014 4:02pm
 Only 1,200 people will be selected for Penn South's waiting list. 
Only 1,200 people will be selected for Penn South's waiting list. 
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Facebook/Penn South

CHELSEA — Tens of thousands of people entered a lottery for a chance to buy an affordable apartment in Penn South complex, officials said.

Between 30,000 and 50,000 people sent postcards to the city by last Friday's deadline in the hopes of winning a spot in the middle-income Chelsea co-op, where apartments start at just $64,000. 

Only 300 people will be picked for Penn South's waiting list to buy studio apartments, 600 for one-bedroom apartments and 300 for two-bedroom apartments.

"Today, we retrieved 10 bags full of postcards from applicants to the Penn South Mitchell-Lama affordable housing lottery," the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which is running the lottery, wrote on its website.

"We estimate that the bags hold between 30,000 to 50,000 postcards. Please note that this is a limited lottery and only applicants whose postcards are drawn in the lottery will be notified. Good luck!"

Those who are chosen will have to pay a $200 application fee to get a spot on the yearslong waiting list, and then they will have the chance to buy an apartment in prime Chelsea for a fraction of market rate. 

The income limit for a two-bedroom apartment was $150,500, while the income limit for smaller apartments was lower. However, those who made up to 50 percent more than the income limit were still allowed to apply, but they would have to pay additional monthly fees if they won an apartment.

Penn South residents can't make a profit from selling their apartments, but they will eventually get back the money they originally paid for it if they move.

The waiting list at the co-op was last opened in 2003, and before that in 1996. In 2003, the co-op put 1,000 people on the waiting list for one-bedroom apartments and 500 people for three-bedrooms. 

A Penn South spokesman directed questions to HPD.