"It is called the Tenant Selection and Assignment Plan [PDF], but to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers seeking a home, it is 'the list,'” writes Mireya Navarro. "Prosperous city residents may consider public housing to be a place of last resort. The waiting list indicates otherwise."
"The growth in the list — and the stories of those who struggle to move up on it to gain subsidized apartments — underscores how the city continues to face a shortage of housing for the poor and the working class."
"But," as Navarro explains, "low income alone does not determine who gets an apartment, and the waiting list is not run on a first-come-first-served basis."
"Officials favor groups of applicants in order to further policy goals. Some, like victims of domestic violence, are given priority. Others, like working families, are preferred because they can pay higher rents and also help diversify the projects so they do not segregate the poor."
"Those with a high priority can jump the line and may get an apartment in as little as three months. Others will wait years — with little if any prospect of getting off the list."