Need help with housing? Good luck.
For two days a year, Denver’s low-income residents have the chance to sign-up to participate in the lottery to apply for housing vouchers through the Denver Authority, which manages Section 8 housing in the city. You read that right. The lucky winners won’t necessarily get housing support. They’ll win the chance to apply for it.
This year, the lottery — and yes, they call it a lottery — takes place from 12:01 a.m., Thursday, September 15 through 11:59 p.m., Friday, September 16. Here’s the website, where you can apply.
What is this program, anyhow?
Once called Section 8, the Denver Housing Authority has renamed the program the Housing Choice Voucher. Basically, the program uses money from the federal government to help subsidize housing for very low to low-income families in the market for affordable housing.
The program is geared toward renters. The money goes to property owners, to pay the tenant’s rent and make the housing — wherever it may be — more affordable.
The trouble is the program can subsidize only some of the people who need it. This year, DHA is hoping to give vouchers to around 500 renters.
The lottery is the first step in the application process.
“With the number of individuals and families currently experiencing homelessness, we hope to house approximately 500 members of the community through this year’s lottery,” said Loretta Owens, director of housing choice voucher programs of Denver Housing Authority, in a statement.
So what is the number of Denverites experiencing homelessness? Estimates vary. According to a report from the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, there were 32,233 individuals who used services related to homelessness between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021 in the metro area. That’s a lot of people, regionally, who have been struggling with housing — way more than the 500 this program can serve.
Here’s how you qualify.
You have to be 18 or up, a U.S. citizen or an eligible immigrant with the legal right to enter into a lease under state and local law, according to DHA.
Neither applicants nor those who have family members in their household who are lifetime registered sex offenders in any state can apply. Nor can they if they have been convicted of making meth in a public housing development or Section 8 property.
Every person over 18 has to go through a criminal background check, and heads of households and applicants have to provide their social security numbers.
Don’t have multiple members of your family participate in the lottery, or you will be disqualified. Same if you enter more than once.
You can’t transfer your lottery entry to another person and if your application is incomplete it will be disqualified.
And whatever you do, don’t pay anybody to participate in the Housing Choice Lottery. If someone asks you to fork over money, they’re likely a scam artist.
If you want to participate, you have to do so online at www.denverhousing.org.
Even if you don’t own a phone, computer or tablet that’s hooked up to the internet, there are options for you.
DHA operates two Opportunity Centers from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Westwood Homes at 855 South Irving Street and at North Lincoln Homes at 1401 Mariposa Street. Do not go to DHA’s Osage Street office to enter the lottery; you can’t.
You can also use the internet at Denver Public Libraries. For hours and details, go to the Denver Library website or call 720-865-1111. Need help figuring out how to use a computer? Staff can help.
What happens after you enter?
Every entry will be held in a pool. DHA will draw numbers. Those picked will have a chance to apply for Section 8 housing.
The winning lottery numbers will be posted on the agency’s website. DHA will send the winners instructions on next steps.
On September 30, the lottery entries that haven’t been drawn will be purged.
For those who lose the lottery, you’ll have to wait another year to try again.