ELK GROVE (CBS13) – The city of Elk Grove has earned a top spot in a national challenge, and the grand prize is worth millions of dollars.

It’s called the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge and asks cities across the country to come up with creative ways to fight tough problems faced by its residents.

Elk Grove’s plan addresses the housing crisis by making it easier for low-income renters to find a place to live. It’s an idea that beat out hundreds of others.

Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly said, “That’s one of the basic necessities. Everyone needs a place to live.”

But for many, finding a place to live isn’t easy. If you’ve ever rented before, you know the headaches. Application after application and credit check after credit check, it all adds up in time and money. That’s why Elk Grove is trying to ease the burden.

“This is about streamlining the process,” said Mayor Ly.

The idea involves creating a universal and standardized application process for low-income residents — one application that could connect potential renters with the home and price range that fits them best.

Mayor Ly said, “It just makes logical sense to actually have a central location where somebody can actually enter all of their information onto a computer.”

Mayor Ly says the idea is to have that information packaged together and then sent out to landlords in the area. He and his team submitted the proposal as part of the challenge. Out of 320 cities that applied, Elk Grove made it to the top 35 and will now receive up to $100,000 to test the idea over the next six months. The competition will then narrow down to five cities, with a top prize of $5 million.

“It would really be groundbreaking,” said Mayor Ly.

Renters say anything that makes the process of finding an affordable home easier is a win for them.

Elk Grove renter Dave Fernandez said, “Making it quicker to find a place to live and not having to go through so much hassle.”

Elk Grove leaders will be in New York in March to meet with the creators of this challenge and to start fine-tuning their idea. A winner should be announced in October.