Douglas County rent assistance program switching to lottery system sooner than planned; applications open

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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.

That change is happening now — sooner than planned, according to an update from the HSC. The HSC’s website was having server troubles because of the large number of people applying for rent and utility assistance on Wednesday, according to the update.

Now, people will be able to complete the application at this link anytime before 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6. Qualified applicants will be randomly selected on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

The previous system required applicants to log in and apply starting at 9 a.m. on the first of each month.

“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 a previous news release from the county. “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 previous release.

The HSC also 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. The new maximum payment will take effect with the March drawing.

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

The application period for March will run from Feb. 15 through March 1, and qualified applicants will be selected March 2.

The HSC currently has $887,694 to distribute through the end of 2023, according to the release. Funding comes from multiple sources, including Douglas County, the City of Lawrence and the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, according to the release.

Find more information on HSC’s website,

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