Step by step

How the affordable housing lottery works

Learn how MOHCD runs affordable housing program lotteries.

Most lotteries for our affordable housing programs are now run electronically and are open to the public.


Running the lottery

Visit the DAHLIA San Francisco Housing Portal for electronic lotteries.

All the lottery numbers are randomly sorted by running a program on Each applicant is assigned an "unfiltered" ranking between 1 and the total number of applicants. For example, in a lottery with 3,000 applicants, each applicant will be assigned a number between 1 and 3,000.

Show more

Filtering by preference

Preferences are used for all City-sponsored housing.

The lottery report is filtered by lottery preference category. Having a lottery preference improves your chances in a housing lottery. They give current and former San Francisco residents a better chance of living in the City.

Anyone who has a lottery preference is taken from the unfiltered list and sorted into a separate list.

Example: Julie has an "unfiltered" ranking of 11, and Bob has an "unfiltered" ranking of 15. They are both in the Displaced Tenant Housing Preference. Julie and Bob have the highest "unfiltered" rankings of all other applicants in that preference. So, Julie would have a ranking of 1 and Bob would have a ranking of 2 in the Displaced Tenant Housing Preference.

Show more


All lottery results are posted online to their listing no later than one week after the lottery.

Show more

After the lottery

The sales agent, leasing agent, or MOHCD staff will start contacting households in lottery rank order, sorted by preference.

You must provide current or updated financial documents as soon as we ask for them. Otherwise, we may skip you and go to the next-ranked household in the lottery.

Show more

Last updated November 17, 2022