Douglas County rent assistance program to switch to lottery system, lower per-household cap

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The Douglas County Housing Stabilization Collaborative is moving away from a first-come, first-served model to distribute funding for residents in need of rent and utility assistance.

HSC will also lower the maximum total payment to each household in order to serve more households.

Under the new lottery system, people will be able to complete the application during a two-week window from Feb. 15 through March 1; then, qualified applications will be randomly selected on March 2, according to a news release announcing the change.

The current system required applicants to log in and apply starting at 9 a.m. on the first of each month. That system will still be in place for the month of February; applications will reopen at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1 at this link.

“The first-come, first-served process favored those who could type the fastest, access a computer, or have someone doing the application on their behalf,” Gabi Sprague, Douglas County human services program manager, said in the release. “The lottery system removes that barrier and is best practice in communities where funding cannot meet the need.”

With the lottery system, HSC will have a better idea of what the gap is between applications and funding, according to the release.

The HSC also has decided to lower the annual rent and utility assistance cap per household to $1,500, plus $100 for each dependent, in order to serve more households annually. The previous cap was $2,205, plus $100 for each dependent.

“We do not have enough funding to meet the need in our community,” Sprague said in the release. “This  change will allow us to do the most we can with available funding.” 

Last month, HSC provided $104,535 to 108 households, according to the release.

“From April 2021 through the end of 2022, HSC distributed $1.8 million. It currently has $887,694 to distribute through the end of 2023,” according to the release. “The funding comes from multiple sources including: Douglas County, the City of Lawrence and the Emergency Food and Shelter Program.”

Beyond distribution of funds, the HSC works to improve underlying systemic issues that contribute to the need for assistance, including low wages, source of income protections, right to counsel programming, lower rent and more affordable housing, according to the release.

Find more information on HSC’s website,

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