HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing

About the Competition

HUD PD&R invites teams from accredited educational institutions in the United States to participate in its Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition. Teams must be comprised of students enrolled in a graduate degree program.


Transforming our Communities

The need for quality, affordable housing has never been greater. At its best, housing can help strengthen the social and physical fabric of communities and neighborhoods. It is the hope of HUD and PD&R that by initiating and funding this competition, a new generation will advance the design and production of livable and sustainable housing for low- and moderate-income people through research and innovation.

Making it Actionable

The IAH competition has been designed to replicate a real-life approach. Multi-disciplinary teams comprised of graduate students in architecture, planning and policy, finance and other areas will be asked to address social, economic, and environmental issues in responding to a specific housing problem developed by an actual public housing agency (PHA).

The Importance of a Team Approach

This competition is designed to encourage research and innovation in affordable housing, to raise practitioner and future practitioner capacity, and to foster cross-cutting team-work within the design and community development process. The IAH will join the suite of annual PD&R awards for community planning, historic preservation, and affordable housing design.

Multidisciplinary teams must be comprised of a minimum of three students and a maximum of five, plus one faculty advisor. Each team must have members representing three different graduate level programs; one of which must be from an architectural or design-related program, and one of which must be from a non-architectural program. There are many acceptable permutations; here is one example for clarity:

  • 2 M. Architecture candidates
  • 1 M. Planning or Public Policy candidate
  • 2 MBA candidates


Registration for the 2019 IAH Competition has ended. Sign up to receive updates about the competition.

Faculty Responsibility:

The faculty advisor may be from any of the team-represented disciplines and serves only in an advisory role, not as an active team participant.


    1. All team members must be enrolled in a graduate degree program from an accredited educational institution in the United States.
    2. All team leaders must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States.
    3. All teams must be comprised of at least three citizens or permanent residents of the United States.


About the Agencies

About HUD PD&R

Established in 1973, HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) informs policy development and implementation to improve life in American communities through conducting, supporting, and sharing research, surveys, demonstrations, program evaluations, and best practices. PD&R supports the Department's efforts to help create cohesive, economically healthy communities.

PD&R manages HUD USER: A Clearinghouse for Housing, Sustainable Communities, and Community Development Research & Data that hosts research, publications, and data sets in housing, sustainable communities, and community development.

In addition to policy development and research, the work of the office includes demonstration projects, data collection, analysis, and dissemination, and conferences and publications. With the addition of the Innovations in Affordable Housing competition, PD&R supports fully or in part, four other annual, national housing competitions: Excellence in Affordable Housing Design, Excellence in Historic Preservation, Housing and Community Develop in Action (public-philanthropic partnerships awards), and the NAHB Award for Excellence.

About San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA)

This year’s IAH partner is the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA), whose vision is to create dynamic communities where people thrive. The San Antonio Housing Authority seeks to provide quality affordable housing by:

  • Empowering and equipping families to improve their quality of life and achieve economic stability.
  • Preserving and improving existing affordable housing resources and opportunities.
  • Strategically expand the supply of affordable housing.
  • Transforming core operations to be a high performing and financially strong organization.
  • Developing a local and national reputation for being an effective leader, partner, and advocate for affordable housing and its residents. which has been serving families, seniors, and persons with disabilities since the 1950s by providing rent subsidies for permanent housing to those qualifying for subsidies due to low household incomes.
  • Investing in its employees to establish a track record for integrity, accountability, collaboration and strong customer service.

SAHA is pleased to be one of 39 public housing authorities throughout the nation with the Moving to Work designation, which provides agencies with the flexibility to design and test innovative approaches to enhance the agency’s programs. The MTW designation also seeks to decrease federal spending with additional funding flexibility through a combination of public housing operating subsidy, capital fund program (CFP) grants, and Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program subsidy – all under a single fund block grant.

HUDUSER and PD&R logo