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Announcing the 2019 Innovation in Affordable Housing Competition

Image of Rachelle Levitt, Director of PD&R's Research Utilization Division.Rachelle Levitt, Director of PD&R's Research Utilization Division.

HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) is pleased to announce the 2019 Innovation in Affordable Housing (IAH) Student Design and Planning Competition. The competition encourages multidisciplinary graduate student teams to submit innovative solutions for a real-world affordable housing project that incorporate design, planning, finance, and larger community elements. We launched the IAH competition, now in its sixth year, to raise awareness of affordable housing needs among graduate students; encourage research and innovation in affordable housing; cultivate future practitioner capacity; and foster cross-discipline teamwork among students in design, finance, public policy, and planning. I have been part of this competition from the beginning, and my colleagues and I hope that through this competition, a new generation will advance the design and production of livable and sustainable housing for low- and moderate-income residents.

The IAH competition is designed to replicate a real-life approach to development, and teams are asked to address social, economic, and environmental issues in response to a specific housing problem developed by an actual public housing agency (PHA). The competition involves two phases. In the first phase, student teams submit proposals, including a narrative, a site plan, and a pro forma analysis. A jury then evaluates the proposals on the basis of design, planning context, economic considerations, and other criteria specific to the project before selecting four finalist teams. In the second phase, the finalist teams visit the project site and refine and resubmit their plans, and the jury selects a winner based on the teams’ final plans.

Picture of the 2019 HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing competition logo with HUD and PD&R logos.

The 2018 IAH competition, which concluded in April 2018, challenged teams to develop proposals for the construction of 154 new units designed for seniors and persons with disabilities at two sites identified by the Dover Housing Authority in Dover, New Hampshire. In addition to incorporating innovative design and building techniques, the student teams had to integrate community engagement strategies for seniors, veterans, and persons with disabilities into their plans. As reported in PD&R Edge in April 2018, the jury selected the University of Maryland, College Park team as the winner of the 2018 IAH competition based on its Beacon Crossing plan, which focused on the connections between community services and sustainable development. The jury selected the University of Colorado Denver as the runner-up team for its Allied Living plan, which prioritized accessible design and addressed health, wellness, and connectivity to the larger community. The Maryland team received $20,000 for its winning proposal, and the University of Colorado Denver was awarded a $10,000 cash prize. For more information about previous IAH competitions and winning proposals, visit this page.

The 2019 HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing Competition addresses a key issue currently facing the U.S. — housing inequality — ensuring safe and secure housing for all income groups, with access to transportation, jobs, and services located in diverse neighborhoods. This year’s project is unique in that teams will be challenged to create and justify a plan that accounts for development on a site with a high property value. It is envisioned that the 2019 project will include housing options for mixed-income resident and promote connectivity to public transportation. As a result, solutions should address meeting the needs of all residents as well as fostering long-term, positive resident interaction and a sense of community.

Registration for the 2019 IAH competition began on October 1, 2018, and we encourage interested graduate students to form teams and register. To be eligible, all team members must be enrolled in a graduate degree program from an accredited educational institution in the United States. Teams must consist of three to five students and may have one faculty advisor. Each team must be multidisciplinary; team members must be students in three different graduate-level programs, one of which must be an architectural or design-related program and one of which must be a nonarchitectural program. Additional eligibility requirements and information can be found here.

The site for the 2019 IAH competition has not yet been announced, but will be listed here on December 11, 2018, following the close of registration. To read answers to frequently asked questions about the IAH competition, visit the FAQ page.

To stay up to date on the 2019 IAH competition, sign up for IAH updates.