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Charity Raffles Off $1.6 Million Bucktown Home, or $1.3 Million in Cash

By Alisa Hauser | February 21, 2014 9:54am | Updated on February 21, 2014 9:55am
 Inside a $1.6 million Bucktown home that is the grand prize in The Hope Institute's third annual Dream House Raffle.
Chicago Dream House Raffle
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BUCKTOWN — If affording a single family home in one of the city's hottest neighborhoods has been a pipe dream, listen up: the purchase of a $150 raffle ticket could have you living in a 4,200-square-foot new brownstone in Bucktown.

If enough tickets are sold, some lucky person with a raffle ticket may win a $1.6 million Chicago dream home, or $1.3 million in cash, in the Chicago Dream House Raffle. 

The grand prize "Dream Home" is located a few blocks east of the North, Milwaukee and Damen Avenue intersection.

The five-bedroom home includes three bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen, two master suites, custom millwork, hardwood floors and two spacious decks.

The raffle is an effort to raise cash for the Hope Institute for Children and Families, a nonprofit that works to provide services for people ages 5 to 21 affected by developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders.

 Hope Institute spokesman Pat Sajak, with a student at the group's Chicago school.
Hope Institute spokesman Pat Sajak, with a student at the group's Chicago school.
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The Hope Institute

"It's the quintessential win-win," said Mark Schmidt, a spokesman for the Institute.

Schmidt said the home is being offered by a couple who is prepared to sell their home to the Institute should the winner decide to choose the home rather than the cash.

Because the winner must pay income taxes on the $1.6 million prize home, Schmidt said he is anticipating that, "Nine times out of 10, due to tax consequences, [the winners] would probably take the cash."

With more than 550 prizes, including vacations and cars, the Dream House Raffle is the Springfield-based institute's largest fundraiser.

The Institute has a campus in the capital as well as the Hope Institute Learning Academy at 1628 W. Washington Blvd. on the Near West Side of Chicago.

Tickets went on sale in January and so far "thousands" have been sold, Schmidt said.

"It's a pace we are happy with. Last year we fell short of giving away the home," he said, referring to a $2.4 million Gold Coast penthouse that was raffled off but not enough tickets were sold in which to purchase it.

Instead, last year's grand prize winner was awarded between $75,000 and $100,000 cash, and organizers distributed some $400,000 in prizes to other winners, Schmidt said.

Pat Sajak, of Wheel of Fortune fame is the organization's celebrity spokesman for the second year.

Sajak has toured the Learning Academy, which is a CPS contract school that serves 425 students, and is appearing in direct mail advertisements and television commercials to promote the raffle.

"As a nonprofit we look to diverse fundraising ideas and creative ways to raise money," Schmidt said.

There are several "draw dates," and incentives for early purchases. Any tickets purchased by the end of the day on Friday will be entered to win a car or $25,000 cash, as well as the "dream house."

Odds of winning any prize are 1 in 90, based on current ticket sales.

The June 7 grand prize drawing will take place in Springfield, though winners do not need to attend to claim a prize. Deadlines to win early bird prizes are on Feb. 21, March 21 and April 18.

Those who want to purchase tickets can visit the website or call 1-800-697-7734.  Note: The IRS does not consider raffle tickets to be tax deductible purchases.