MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – For the first time in more than five years, thousands of people in the metro area have a chance to apply for Section 8 housing.

That means you only have to pay for 30 to 40 percent of your rent, and the federal government will pay your landlord the other 70 percent.

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Applicants can choose their rental as long as the landlord agrees. There are 2,000 slots open online through Friday for people in Anoka, Washington, Dakota, Scott and Carver counties and in rural Hennepin and Ramsey counties.

Terri Smith manages the HRA Metropolitan Council office that is opening up the online slots.

“It’s heartbreaking to know you get calls every day, and there just aren’t options for families,” Smith said.

Since 2007, the staff has said no to everyone seeking Section 8 housing.

Jeff Van Vyve said he has been trying to get Section 8 help years.

“It’s almost impossible,” he said. “When it comes up, you have to show up or otherwise you’re just done.”

Van Vyve battles mental illness and works part-time at Sam’s Club. He gets help from a subsidy but is hoping this will be his chance.

He applied online Wednesday.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

These are the the maximum salary requirements to qualify:

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• $29,050 for 1 person
• $33,200 for 2 people
• $37,350 for 3 people
• $41,450 for 4 people

“We’re expecting to get upwards of 50,000 applications over the four-day opening,” Smith said.

They’ve already gotten over 20,000.

“These programs help a lot of people who can’t afford rent so they can actually live in the community and try to be productive,” Van Vyve said.

And even though it’s a long shot, it’s not a firm “No.”

“Take your chances,” Smith said. “Go out there and apply.”

For those who do get lucky and get on the list, there could be another two-year wait.

Here is a link to the online application.

Here’s more information on Section 8.

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Here are other options for affordable housing.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield