Scott County's waiting list for federal rent assistance is open for the first time since 2007, offering hundreds of people a chance at highly sought-after vouchers that can be used in the private rental market.

The county's Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly known as Section 8, administers 399 vouchers at a given time, but the waiting list is open to 500 applicants. The list, which opened this week, closes Monday at 11:59 p.m. Annual income eligibility requirements range from $36,200 to $68,250 and vary based on household size.

Opening the waitlist provides an important opportunity for low-income, elderly and disabled Minnesotans because they can only get on the list when it's open, said Julie Siegert, housing director for the Scott County Community Development Agency (CDA).

In 2007, the CDA received 1,200 applications. So far this year, the organization has gotten 1,300 applications.

After the application period closes, applicants will be selected for the waiting list through a lottery. Anyone can apply, but CDA officials will give preference to people already enrolled in certain federal or state housing programs or moving from permanent supportive housing. Anyone living or working in Scott County will also receive preference.

Recipients have to use the voucher in Scott County for the first year but after that it can be used elsewhere, Siegert said. There are about 140 landlords in Scott County accepting the vouchers.

The CDA can issue a voucher only when someone leaves the program. Officials turn to the waiting list when that happens.

Here's how it works: The participating family locates a rental unit in Scott County, the landlord accepts the voucher and the CDA provides rental assistance through the program, Siegert said. Voucher recipients typically pay 30% to 40% of their income toward rent and the CDA picks up the rest, typically about $700, using federal funds.

The Dakota County CDA's Housing Choice Voucher Program waiting list is also open now.

Erin Adler • 612-673-1781

Correction: Previous versions of this article misstated an end date for the program.