By Shirin Rajaee

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Starting Tuesday night, thousands of people in Sacramento County will be taking a chance on a lottery for subsidized housing.

The county’s Redevelopment Agency and Housing Authority will open the wait list for a voucher program that will serve local low-income families who can’t afford the high rents.

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The waitlist program was last opened was in 2014. At that time more than 45,000 people applied for just 5,000 slots, and now the housing market has gotten so rough in the county that even more people are expected to apply.

“When you’re renting from landlords, you’re staying at their mercy,” said Barbara Raney-Clark.

Clark lives with her husband, a disabled veteran and two grandchildren. She says she and her family struggle to stay afloat.

“We can barely make it, we can barely make it,” said Clark.

She is one of the thousands of people who plan to go online and apply at a time when the county faces an affordable housing crisis.

“My husband is a 71-year-old disabled veteran, and he has his health challenges,” she said.

With rising rents and a growing homeless population, this year’s housing lottery is expected to be competitive.

“Know there will probably be 50,000 people applying for the vouchers,” said Rachel Iskow, former CEP of Sacramento Mutual Housing.

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And only 7,000 spots are available on the housing authority’s waiting list.

So here’s what you need to know:

Apply online- between midnight Tuesday night and Jan. 30 at

Eligibility is based mainly on income, so, a family of three can earn no more than about $33,000 per year. Families who are homeless, rent burdened, military veterans, or disabled, will receive priority.

“You only have to pay 30 percent of your monthly income for rent, and the voucher will pay the landlord the rest of the rent.

Housing advocate Rachel Iskow says finding landlords who will accept the vouchers once you get them, is the next challenge.

But people like Barbara Clark are keeping hopes high.

“I’m happy I get to apply, and I can just hope and pray that our names come up,” said Clark.

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Iskow says if you’re struggling and not sure if you qualify, just apply. And even if you’re lucky enough to land a spot on the waitlist, it may take a couple of years before housing becomes available.