Six organizations will pursue new housing innovations after being named winners in the Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge by Enterprise Community Partners and Wells Fargo.
In one of the winning initiatives, Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) will explore trauma-informed innovations in resident services, property management, and physical design in affordable housing.
The goal is to create a more equitable model for affordable housing that reduces evictions, improves resident and staff retention, promotes healthy, physical design, and contributes to individual and community resiliency, according to the Boston-based nonprofit.
The nationwide competition aims to find the most innovative and scalable solutions to increase housing affordability. The winning organizations will each receive $2 million in grants and two years of technical assistance valued at $500,000, facilitated by Enterprise, to realize their innovative concepts.
The competition has three focus areas—housing construction, housing finance, and resident services and support.
Selected in the resident services and support category, POAH is collaborating on the project with several partners, including Design Impact in Cincinnati, Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future in Washington, D.C., the Center for Trauma Informed Innovation at Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City, Missouri, Community Services League in Independence, Missouri, and MASS Design Group in Boston.
“We believe that applying trauma-informed care principles and practices to affordable housing is an idea whose time has come,” said Aaron Gornstein, POAH president and CEO. “The COVID-19 pandemic and the growing need to address racial injustices make this even more urgent today. We look forward to getting started with our partners so that we can help make a positive impact on our residents, staff, and affordable housing providers across the country.”
New Orleans-based Gulf Coast Housing Partnership (GCHP) is a winner in the housing finance focus area. Its Health + Housing program connects affordable housing with accessible medical care, data-driven impact analysis, and new sources of capital from health care payers, specifically Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs).
The Health + Housing idea began as a collaboration between GCHP and a group of Jackson, Mississippi, faith-based and community health organizations as a way to address both the need for accessible, community-based health care and affordable housing. GCHP president and CEO Kathy Laborde played a critical role in the idea inception.
“I believe that a person’s quality of life is greatly influenced by access to affordable housing and health care,” said Laborde. “Health + Housing brings together those two components in partnership with MCOs who underwrite these projects to provide quality homes and convenient access to health care for their members.”
The Health + Housing innovation seeks to change the financing equation by attracting flexible below-market debt from health care payers while creating robust community-based health systems. GCHP will use the grant funds received from Enterprise and Wells Fargo to seed a risk-sharing capital pool aimed at leveraging investments in new affordable housing developments from health care payers.
GCHP has laid the groundwork for Health + Housing and secured gap financing commitments from two of the largest Medicaid MCOs in the country. UnitedHealthcare will be GCHP’s partner for the first Health + Housing pilot project in Jackson. The second pilot project will be in partnership with Humana and located in Central City New Orleans, a community that GCHP has partnered with for over a decade.
The other winners are:
Housing Construction: · cdcb | come dream. come build (Texas): MiCASiTA is a unique off-the-shelf environmentally sustainable, disaster-resilient modular homeownership innovation designed for rural families across South Texas and more communities struggling with persistent poverty throughout the U.S. Reimagining affordable housing delivery, MiCASiTA marks a departure from a one-size-fits-all model to a system that empowers people of color with modest incomes to choose and design their own homes to advance wealth building, protect the environment, and strengthen vulnerable neighborhoods.
· Forterra NW (Washington): Reengineering the affordable housing supply chain by Prototyping Modular Cross-Laminated Timber brings together tribes, communities of color, forest conservationists, architects, and more to replace conventional construction technologies that rely on stick framing, concrete, and steel with a modular cross-laminated timber prototype. Propelled by community engagement, the new building system promotes responsibly harvested forests, promising to radically lower the cost of construction, create needed rural jobs, and mitigate the dangers of climate change.
Housing Finance: · Center for NYC Neighborhoods (New York): Underwriting for Good aims to rewrite who gets to be a homeowner in the U.S. by dramatically increasing the amount of credit flowing to families of color with modest means. Harnessing the power of financial technology (fintech), the tool will affirmatively address racial inequity and reduce the racial wealth gap through at-scale, nondiscriminatory lending and the creation of a new automated underwriting system with the potential to secure an equitable recovery from COVID-19. When brought to scale, the tool will enable access to credit for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of borrowers of color who will gain the opportunity to build wealth through homeownership.
Resident Services and Support:
· Impact Justice (California): The Homecoming Project revolutionizes reentry housing by pairing individuals returning from prison with people who have a room available in their home to live as part of a family and a neighborhood, while receiving individualized support and services to help regain their dignity and rebuild their new lives. Inspired by Airbnb and the sharing economy, the program aims to reduce homelessness among formerly incarcerated people, increase the quality and availability of affordable housing, and strengthen the financial stability of homeowners at risk of being forced out of their neighborhoods by gentrification and other economic forces.
For more information on the competition, as well as the finalists and their winning proposals, visit the Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge website.
The Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge is part of Wells Fargo’s $1 billion commitment to support housing affordability solutions nationwide by 2025.