The town of Bluffton picked three applicants Thursday who can choose from among six homes to buy in the Wharf Street affordable-housing project.
The anonymous applicants were assigned first, second or third choice in a lottery, and a second lottery may be held in September to determine the pecking order for the remaining homes, town officials said.
"The applicants drawn will select the homes that they would like to put in an offer to purchase," said town planner Danny Wilson.
Wilson said the town's next step in filling the homes will be meeting with the three applicants -- in the order in which they were selected -- to determine which home they want to buy.
The town must also wait, he said, for confirmation that the applicants have been preapproved for a mortgage, an indication of what they can afford.
The three applicants were selected from a larger pool of approved applicants based in part on where they live and work, said Shirley Wilkins, a community-development consultant for the town.
Mayor Lisa Sulka said neither the pouring rain -- which forced the lottery to be moved indoors, to the Rotary Community Center in Oscar Frazier Community Park -- nor the absence of applicants could dampen her enthusiasm.
"They're working, and I asked," Sulka said of the applicants. "I wasn't sure if I'd see them here or not. ... It's raining and they're working, so it doesn't bother me too much, and I think they want to remain anonymous until they close (on the homes.)"
Sulka said she's confident applicants can afford the homes. She added that the town may offer aid beyond the subsidies qualified applicants will already receive.
"I know that we have some down-payment assistance that we can find help with for them," she said. Sulka added that "several" potential applicants had inquired about the project in recent weeks.
Applicants must meet the requirements of Bluffton's Affordable Housing Homeownership Program and complete a homebuyer education course.
Affordable Housing Committee chairman Fred Hamilton said he was mostly encouraged by Thursday's development.
"I am satisfied that we finally got three homes awarded," he said. "But I'm not going to be completely satisfied until they're all full."
Follow reporter Grant Martin at twitter.com/LowCoBiz.