After the rental housing lottery

What to expect after the lottery for affordable rental housing.

What to do

Usually, there are many applicants for only a few open units. This means: 

  • If you qualify for a preference, you have a higher chance of getting housing. Preferences are programs that help you rank higher in the lottery. People who qualify get contacted first.
  • You might not hear back about your application. Leasing agents can only contact applicants until all units are filled. Since there are often many applicants for only a few units, leasing agents cannot contact everyone who applied. 
  • You might get added to a waitlist. For some listings, you will get added to a waitlist if you do not get a unit. Check the listing where you applied to see if there is a waitlist. 

1. Check your ranking

Usually, you can find out your ranking right after the lottery. Check the listing where you applied to find out when lottery results will be available. 

How to check
You need your lottery number. We sent you an email with your lottery number after you applied.

There are 2 ways to get your results:

  • If you applied from your DAHLIA account, sign in and find the listing you applied to
  • Visit the DAHLIA listing page where you applied and enter your lottery number

2. Check your phone and email often

Look for messages from a leasing agent. Leasing agents are representatives from the apartment building who help rent out open units. They reach out in the order of the lottery results until all open units are filled. 

If you rank near the top of the lottery results, checking your phone and email often is especially important. 

A leasing agent might contact you through: 

  • Email (check spam or junk folder regularly)
  • Phone  
  • Text message

How long it takes 
This process can take weeks or months. 

The more units that are open, the longer this can take. 

3. If you are contacted, fill out a detailed application 

Next, you will need to confirm some of the information you provided and show additional documents. The application you already submitted was to enter the lottery.

Leasing agents may also review information like your credit score and rental history.  

How to prepare
Make a plan for getting your documents.

Figure out how you will quickly get information like:

  • Up to 3 to 6 months of paystubs or other proof of income
  • Up to 3 to 6 months of recent bank statements
  • Tax returns for the previous 1 to 2 years 
  • Your previous addresses and landlord contact info 
  • If you qualify for any housing preference programs, documents that prove you qualify 
  • Proof of who will live with you, especially for legal guardians or parents with joint child custody
  • ID issued by a government entity 

Each listing may have different requirements for what documents you need. If you cannot provide the documents you are asked for, you will need to explain why. You might still be able to get housing.  

4. Respond quickly, or you might miss your chance

If you are contacted, we will tell you how much time you have to answer. If you do not respond by the deadline, you may miss your chance to get housing through that listing.

How long you have to answer
Typically between 2 to 5 business days.

If you do not answer, a leasing agent may reach out to your alternate contact, if you provided one. This might be the phone or email of someone like a friend, family member, or social worker.

Keep trying

Getting affordable housing can take time, but it is not impossible. If you do not get housing, keep trying.

Last updated March 29, 2024