OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The Oakland Housing Authority began accepting online applications for its low-income housing waiting list on Monday. The process is carried out every three years and involves nine different public housing sites throughout the city.

OHA Executive Director Eric Johnson said the application period began at 12:01 a.m. on Monday and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Friday. After the application window closes, an automated lottery system will be used to choose about 8,000 households for housing sites over the next three years.

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Johnson said people can only apply for the housing list online, and must visit www.ohawaitlist.com. The lottery will then be conducted by an independent third party vendor, and each completed application will be assigned a number and drawn at random.

KCBS’ Susan Kennedy Reports:

The agency then ranks applicants by preference under its administrative policies, giving special consideration to those who are veterans, elderly, disabled or who live or work in Oakland.

The Housing Authority, for the third time, is partnering with the Oakland Public Library and community-based organizations to provide access to computers and on-site technical assistance.

Library workers are assisting applicants at the main library at 125 14th St. and seven other branches — the Asian, Cesar Chavez, Dimond, 81st Avenue/East Oakland, Eastmont, Golden Gate and West Oakland branches. Only the main branch was open on Monday.

“Many people depend on the library to have access to computers, and our job is to match people to computers to help make housing available,” Oakland Public Library Director Carmen Martinez said.

Assistance is also available at the Housing Authority’s West District Office at 935 Union St. and the East District Office at 1327 65th Ave. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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He said applicants can specify if they want housing in a specific neighborhood or if they will accept housing at any available location in Oakland.

Eligibility for public housing is determined by applicants’ income and family size, Johnson said.

Johnson said notifications of lottery winners will be sent to all applicants within 120 days of the closing of the waitlist.

“Within the next couple of months you’ll get a postcard saying that you made it. If you didn’t make it you’ll have (hopefully) another opportunity in three years. If you did make it, then you have a reasonable expectation that we’re going to call you in the next three years and then you’ll have an offer of housing,” he said.

Three years may sound like a long time, but Johnson pointed out that some cities have not opened up their waiting lists in 10 years.

57-year-old James Ross, who is disabled and out of work, was applying at the Main branch of the Oakland Library.

“I need somewhere to live. I’m living with my daughter right now and it’s about seven of us in the household right now,” Ross said.

Rents range from zero to $700 for a 1 bedroom. Currently, a couple hundred apartments are available and people who are selected could be in a unit by the holidays.

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