HACC housing raffle

The Housing Authority of Champaign County Foundation raffled off two houses on the northern edge of Douglass Park in Champaign — shown with a blue and orange dot — at its scholarship gala Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in an effort to avoid demolition costs.

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CHAMPAIGN — The Housing Authority of Champaign County will soon own two fewer properties after raffling off a couple of its houses.

The houses at 1002 N. Sixth St. and 508 E. Eureka St., both in Champaign, were going to be demolished. Raffling them off instead spared the agency about $60,000 in demolition costs, according to Executive Director David Northern.

The raffle was part of the Housing Authority Foundation’s gala held this past Saturday to raise money for scholarships.

House raffle tickets sold for $100 each. The raffle flier proclaimed both houses were in need of rehab and were being raffled as is.

Northern said the housing authority was going to demolish the two houses because it lacked the money to rehab them.

The winner of both houses, Antwuan Neely, is a local Section 8 housing landlord, Northern said.

Neely is a private landlord and contractor who supports housing authority programs, and he isn’t employed by the agency, according to Northern. Nor was Neely involved in any way with the planning for the gala and raffles, he said.

“He bought a number of tickets for both houses, as did others,” Northern said.

Neely said the results of the drawings were a bit overwhelming.

“There was no expectation to win two houses,” he said.

In all, he purchased 11 raffle tickets, Neely said.

His plan is to rehab both houses and make them available as affordable housing — something he wouldn’t have been able to do if he had to purchase the houses at market value, he said.

“The blessing here is that I won a raffle,” he said.

Along with being a fundraiser, the gala was intended to raise community awareness of what the Housing Authority does and honor some of the agency’s community partners, Northern said.

The event — held for the first time — was “jam-packed,” he said.

Proceeds were still being counted Monday, Northern said, but he believes the event raised more than $60,000.

After expenses are subtracted, the money remaining will support scholarships to help young people pay for college, technical training and youth sports and enrichment activities, according to Northern.