Los Angeles tenant, Tamara Meeks (center) stands with Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles officials, Mayor Eric Garcetti and community representatives at the Los Angeles Central Library in Downtown Los Angeles for the announcement of the opening of the Section 8 Waiting List Lottery. Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel

“Angelenos deserve housing they can afford, no matter their income,” said Los Angeles Mayor Mayor Eric Garcetti. “People who are eligible should apply for the Section 8 rental subsidy program — and we’ll keep fighting to build more affordable housing that gives every family the opportunity to find safe, stable places to live.”

On Monday, October 2, Garcetti joined with elected officials and the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) to announce the opening of the Section 8 Waiting List Lottery. People will be able to apply online starting at 6:00 a.m., Monday, October 16, 2017, through 5:00 p.m., Sunday, October 29, 2017 (Pacific Time), by going to HACLA.hcvlist.org. The Section 8 program provides rental assistance to eligible individuals and families by paying a portion of rent directly to private landlords.

Interested families and individuals can apply online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, during the application period using a smartphone, mobile device or computer with Internet access. Applicants will be required to have a valid, working email address. Free email accounts are widely available online, and free Internet access and email setup assistance is available at local Los Angeles City public libraries. No applications will be handed out or accepted in-person, by mail, email, or fax at any HACLA office.

“It’s an opportunity to apply, along with many others, for a very limited amount of Housing Choice Vouchers [that] can be made available over the next few years,” said president and CEO of HACLA, Douglas Guthrie. “Having affordable housing can be a life changing experience for many people that just can’t afford it or underhoused and overcharged.”

At the end of the application period, HACLA will use a computer-randomized lottery to select up to 20,000 applicants for placement on the Section 8 Waiting List. A preference for assistance will be given to applicants who live or work in the city of Los Angeles and to applicants who are veterans or have a household member who is a veteran, released from such military service under conditions other than dishonorable. As funding is available, HACLA will contact applicants for program eligibility determinations.

“We wanted to make [Section 8 Waiting List Lottery] accessible to everyone,” said director of Section 8 Housing, Carlos Van Natter. “If there are folks who need further assistance due to a disability, they can call our call center number.”

Having waited 16 years, Tamara Meeks signed on for Section 8 when she turned 18-years-old. Now, having her Housing Choice Voucher, she is happy and looking forward to planning the rest of her future. An aspiring rap artist, tap dancer and working in manual labor in aviation, she believes this is a positive beginning for those seeking housing.

“I think it’s an awesome program to look into the future, which you can possibly obtain,” said Meeks. “There is hope in Section 8, even though it’s a long waiting list, it gives you a chance to make a plan of what you want to do in the future.”

Meeks added, “It’s very important to think about your future and put your family first by trying to obtain some kind of stability… because everybody deserves to be housed.”

Applicants can visit hacla.hcvlist.org to submit an application during the open application period and to find additional resources for partners providing application assistance. Applicants needing assistance in applying due to a disability can call (213) 205-5585 or 1-888-816-6955 (toll free), between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time every day during the application period.

Brian W. Carter contributed to this article.