The Section 8 lottery is coming soon to St. Louis County and as many as 30,000 people are expected to line up for a chance to win free rent.
The St Louis County Housing Authority is hoping people will not literally line up, because the last time enrollment was opened, the long line led to traffic problems.
This year the program will only accept online applications.
The government program has a budget of $33 million in St. Louis County, but it will not be enough to cover the rent of everyone who applies.
The last time that the St. Louis County Housing Authority accepted new applications was in 2010.
“If history tells me anything, I would think 25 to 30 thousand people will apply,” said Susan Rollins, executive director at the St. Louis County Housing Authority.
Rollins said all applicants will be entered into a computer system that will randomly select 6,000 names of those who will win the vouchers.
The Housing Authority in the City of St. Louis handles applications differently than the county.
Applicants in the city are ranked by preference, gaining points if an individual is homeless or displaced by natural disaster.
Last July, 27,000 people applied but only 4 filled out their preferences correctly, leading to a time-consuming process for Housing Authority employees.
Unlike the city, the county does not rank applicants based on level of need, instead all applicants are considered randomly.
“We feel if they qualify that’s most important, that individual has an opportunity to rent a home” said Rollins.
Rollins said there are small number of vouchers set aside for women in violent situations and veterans.
The vast majority of the vouchers are left to chance in the waiting list lottery system, as long as an individual’s income qualifies them for a voucher.
Those who qualify based on their income do not have to live in St. Louis County to apply for the voucher. Applicants can live anywhere in the country and the Housing Authority does expect some applications to come from outside our state.
Those selected for the voucher, however, would have to move to St. Louis County to claim the voucher.
Section 8 housing is a federal program, which means anyone can apply.
The application period opens March 9 at 8:00 a.m. and will continue through noon on March 13. Applications can only be submitted online at the Housing Authority website.