Lottery error? That’s too bad |

Lottery error? That’s too bad

Sarah S. Chung

Four victims of botched housing lottery proceedings will get nospecial favors in future lotteries, the Housing Board decidedWednesday.The board voted 6-1 to deny future housing priority as recompenseto individuals who thought they won housing, only to find outthey did not, for one reason or another.The board’s decision last year to give the winner of an invalidatedlottery a preference in a drawing for the next comparable unitwas not a precedent board members intended to set or wanted toestablish as a policy, they said.”We made a mistake and a mistake isn’t corrected by repeatingit,” said County Commissioner Mick Ireland, also a Housing Boardmember. “At some point we have to stop going in the wrong directionand go in the right direction.”Last night’s decision, however, may not be the final word on thesubject.”It’s not over,” vowed Allison Campbell, one of the winners ina Red House lottery that was later invalidated.Campbell did not elaborate on her plans to further pursue thematter, but simply repeated, “I just don’t think it’s over.”Board members, who have wrestled at several meetings with howto address Campbell’s case and the other three, stressed Wednesdaythey had no intention of setting a precedent with their handlingof the James Shaw case last summer. Shaw was given a lottery priorityafter winning a drawing that was subsequently invalidated.Board members believed Shaw’s was an isolated case and that asimilar situation would not arise again.But when three people were drawn as winners in a January lotterythat was later declared invalid, and another individual was erroneouslynotified that he won a December lottery, the Shaw case came backto haunt the board.All four individuals in the latest cases petitioned the boardfor the same treatment Shaw received.”We won a lottery but an error was made and someone else is movinginto my unit,” Campbell said. “The only right thing to do is togive us what is rightfully ours.”But most Housing Board members argued that to grant another roundof priorities would erode confidence in the long-term integrityof the housing program, especially since the Red House lotterywas redrawn because 34 names weren’t included in the first drawing.”What about the people who weren’t in the first drawing?” askedIreland. “Should we give them all priorities, too?””A perception of fairness is a fragile thing,” noted board chairmanFrank Peters. “I’m not going to succumb to the pressure in thisroom instead of looking down the road.”Drawing comparisons to a botched state lottery or an erroneouslydrawn tax-return check, Ireland told the petitioners: “In yourhearts … you know it isn’t yours.” A mistake shouldn’t automaticallyguarantee recompense, he said.At one point, several board members discussed granting the invalidatedwinners some extra chances in the next lottery, but the suggestionnever came to a formal vote. Board member Cari Britton cast the sole dissenting vote. Her positionwas that since the participants weren’t advised that a lottery’soutcome was subject to validation, the invalidated winners shouldget the same consideration Shaw received.

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