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Computer error forces Hawaii public housing lottery reboot

HONOLULU (AP) — A computer error has required the Hawaii Public Housing Authority to conduct a new lottery to choose successful applicants for housing assistance.

A vendor experienced a software glitch causing the names of some applicants for Section 8 housing vouchers to be entered into the lottery more than once, KHON-TV reported Monday.

Applicants received e-mails saying they were selected, but shortly after were informed the process had to be repeated because of the technical error.

There are 6,900 applicants and 750 will be selected. The agency plans to conduct a new lottery this week.

Housing authority Executive Director Hakim Ouansafi said this was the first time the agency used a lottery system.

“When the internet is kind of slow on somebody and they press ëenter’ and they don’t see results quickly, if they press ‘enter’ again, that actually put some (applications) in the system twice, and then they have more of a chance,” Ouansafi said.

The name of one applicant appeared 17 times, he said.

The selection process was subsequently deemed to be unfair because some applicants “had more opportunities than what they should have,” Ouansafi said.

The software also did not detect fraudulent applications with the same names, social security numbers and addresses, Ouansafi said.

The agency expected to finish its application checks by Wednesday and conduct a new lottery by Thursday, with applicants receiving another e-mail update this week.