LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM)– It’s been 16 years since the county has been able to take new applications for critical housing assistance. Now it’s ready to go, and to make sure there’s not another 16-year wait for those who need it.

For the first time since George W. Bush was president, the Lancaster County Housing Authority is once again ready to accept applications to get on the waitlist, for housing choice vouchers– also known as section 8.

“This is a lifeline, especially for those on lower incomes on Social Security or other fixed income and the program allows for stability in the household and allows for affordability. The last thing we want to see or more individuals struggling with their rent and struggling with their housing. That’s a necessity for all of us to have a roof over our head,” Executive Director of Lancaster County Housing and Rental Authority Justin Eby said.

The last time applications were open in 2007, the county got *thousands–and it’s taken all this time to sort through them. This time around, only 500 people will make it onto the waitlist–and they’ll be randomly selected by lottery, which will even the odds.

“I think our county is no different than any other county in any other state currently we’re all dealing with higher rents and low vacancies and when you have both of those affordability tends to be an issue,” said Eby.

Eligibility depends on factors like income, family size, age, and marital status. But with Lancaster County continuing its rapid growth it’s likely there will be far more than 500 people who can use the help.

“I think genuinely the one thing that is on most like American households mind is like: how am I going to be able to afford my housing this month, next month, a year from now. What is my housing going to look like? Am I going to have enough space for me and my family,”Lancaster County Resident Ian Mallory said.

The window to fill out an application will be from Oct. 2 to Oct. 5, afterwards the lottery will take place within 10 days of the closing date.