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Elaine Lee (pictured seated in the red hat) is the 2017 winner of the Cook County Land Bank Authority’s first annual Home Giveaway Lottery; she is surrounded by family members.

Exterior of the home Elaine Lee won in the 2017 lottery giveaway; the deadline for the 2018 giveaway is Dec. 14



As a result of entering the home giveaway lottery last year, Elaine Lee, 67, has a new home to celebrate Christmas in this year.

A sequence of unfortunate events over the course of several years resulted in Lee moving in with one of her three daughters. Lee’s misfortunes started with the loss of her husband in 2004, and continued with the loss of her job in 2005. In 2006, she finally had to sell the home she owned with her husband. After the selling that home, Lee was able to live on her own for about a year before having to move in with her daughter.

A different and brighter set of circumstances, however, is why Lee now resides in the home she won as a contestant in the Cook County Land Bank Authority’s first annual Home Giveaway Lottery last year.

“My daughter told me and other family members about it and suggested I enter the contest,” Lee said. “At first I said no but she convinced me that it was a legitimate contest so I told her to go ahead and enter my name. I had forgotten about it until they called me in December last year and told me I won the house.”

The giveaway lottery for this year runs through Dec. 14 so hurry and sign up at: https://bit.ly/2BtxMaZ.

Lee’s New Home

After receiving the call in Dec. 2017, Lee moved into her new home in Jan. 2018.

“The house is beautiful,” Lee said of her newly renovated, three-bedroom, two–and-a half bathroom, split- level Maywood home. “We never know what God has planned for us and then he surprises us. I won this home and it’s really free, except for the property taxes and insurance that I have to pay and my utilities. They check to make sure you are able to pay the property taxes and insurance. God bless the people who made it possible.”

Everything has been going well in the home.  Lee hasn’t had any issues since moving in, she said. One of her daughters will host the family’s traditional Christmas Eve dinner at the new house.

“Everyone who visits the house is amazed at the top notch job they did renovating the house,” Lee said. “Everything in the house is top-notch. I would encourage anybody to enter the contest. It’s real and there are no strings attached.”

A holiday initiative, the Home Giveaway Lottery was introduced in 2017 as a way to raise awareness for the Land Bank’s Homebuyer Direct Program which offers fixer-upper homes across Cook County at below-market prices as a way to create a path to home ownership.

“Through initiatives like the Homebuyer Direct Program, we are working every day to eliminate barriers that have historically kept home ownership out of reach for many residents. Everyone deserves an opportunity to provide a home for their family and we’re proud of making this a reality for hundreds of new homeowners throughout Chicago and suburban Cook County.”

Homeownership is one of the most beneficial means for Americans to accumulate wealth. However, it remains an elusive dream for many African-Americans.

When a buyer builds equity in their home’s property, the value increases and can benefit the entire community, especially those hit hard by the 2008 mortgage crisis where the Land Bank focuses most of its work.

The Homebuyer Direct Program helps prospective homebuyers buy, rehab and ultimately move into the home of their dreams. Buyers can incorporate their own ideas into the design of their new home.

The Land Bank traditionally has sold delinquent, vacant or abandoned properties to developers. However, the Homebuyer Direct Program allows the Land Bank to work directly with homebuyers who can guide the development process such as the schedule, contractors and aesthetic choices about the rehab, in accordance with their preferences.

The homes, which range between $30,000 and $180,000, are located in neighborhoods such as Auburn Gresham, Roseland and South Shore. Suburban properties are also available.

Properties eligible for the Homebuyer Direct Program are listed on the Land Bank’s website and updated daily. Answers to homebuyers’ frequently asked questions, recommendations for lenders and down payment assistance and an application for the program are all listed on the website at http://www.landbankauthority.org.

As for the Land Bank’s Home Giveaway Lottery, this year’s winner will need to be able to pay $800 per month for the taxes and insurance on their new home that’s also located in the Village of Maywood.


Anyone interested in participating in the 2018 Home Giveaway has until December 14 to register at https://bit.ly/2BtxMaZ.

The winner will be announced December 21, 2018.

For more information about the Home Giveaway Lottery drawing or the Homebuyer Direct Program, go to http://www.cookcountylandbank.org.





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