Home Funders News & Events

Innovation Competition

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Competition Forum: June 13, 2016

Thank you to everyone who made their way to the Boston Foundation that Monday morning to felicitate the competition winners and to hear from Professor Matthew Desmond! It was a full room of engaged participants representing many areas of affordable housing. Congratulations, once again, to the winners!

Professor Desmond held each one of us captivated with the compelling stories of the families he lived amongst for eighteen months in Milwaukee. If you haven’t read his book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, we recommend that you do.  It is a heartbreaking ethnographic study set against a backdrop of extensive and sometimes startling statistical data.

View more photos from the forum here.

The Prizewinners

We are very pleased to announce the winners of the Innovation Competition! We received a total of 19 submissions from a range of housing, construction, design and advocacy individuals and organizations. The proposals were evaluated on the extent to which they presented innovative, feasible and sustainable solutions to build, preserve or create access to housing units for ELI families at scale.

Here are the winners of the competition:

Grand Prize: $20,000

Organization Name:
 Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc. (POAH)

Organization’s Mission:
 To create, preserve and sustain affordable, healthy communities that provide economic security and access to opportunity for all people.

POAH is proposing a new State Donation Tax Credit (DTC), within the existing Massachusetts State Low Income Housing Tax Credit (SLIHTC) program, modeled on successful programs in only a few other states. The DTC would provide a credit against state income tax liability to property owners who donate existing housing to qualified nonprofits. The nonprofits, in turn, would commit to keeping the housing affordable over the long term (per SLIHTC requirements).

The savings in each housing project that utilizes DTC would then be used to add ELI units in the property. POAH estimates that these DTC strategies could support conversion of 15-30% of a DTC project’s units to be affordable to extremely low income (ELI) households without needing additional operating subsidies.

2nd Prize: $15,000

Organization Name:
 Coalition for Occupied Homes in Foreclosure, Inc. (COHIF)

Organization’s Mission:
 To collectively work with partners to stabilize the Greater Four Corners neighborhood of Dorchester, MA, by providing an innovative means by which residents at risk of displacement can stay in their homes as long as possible and eventually replicating these efforts in other communities.

COHIF proposes expanding its model of purchasing existing, occupied properties in order to keep ELI families housed, with particular attention paid to properties in which the residents are at immediate risk of being displaced. These are properties that may be in foreclosure or where a sale of the property on the open market could result in eviction of current occupants.

Expanding and replicating this model would provide long-term stable housing for more ELI households in Boston and, potentially, in other areas where rising property values are incentivizing owners to sell. Affordable housing entities would purchase foreclosed and other at-risk occupied properties, keep the low-income and ELI families living in their homes, and convert the housing into long-term affordable housing by transferring ownership to a community land trust. By focusing on the existing housing stock, COHIF estimates that permanently affordable ELI units could be created at a lower cost – and with less subsidy – than newly-constructed units.

3rd Prize: $10,000

Organization Name: 
Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA)

Organization’s Mission:
 To encourage the production and preservation of affordable housing and to foster diverse, sustainable communities through planning and community development.

CHAPA’s proposal is to expand housing assistance for ELI families with children by creating a new pool of flexible funds for housing-related costs, and possibly related services. With the current Medicaid waiver policies in place, CHAPA would seek initial health sector funding from hospitals for this flexible housing fund. The funding pool itself would be administered by an intermediary that would work on coordinated, cost-efficient distribution of funds. The funding pool would primarily serve ELI families in which an adult or child has health problems that are exacerbated by their housing status (e.g., homeless, severely cost-burdened, facing rent arrears, in unhealthy housing).

CHAPA would also convene an advisory group that would guide the program, including the types of assistance to fund (e.g., vouchers, set-asides of existing units, new construction of ELI units) and its integration with health and housing services to support successful family outcomes.

Honorable Mention

Organization Name:
 Kuehn Foundation Affordable Housing Fellowship

Organization’s Mission: 
To improve the capacity of nonprofit affordable housing developers and the affordable housing community in Greater Boston

The Affordable Housing Fellows at Kuehn Foundation propose to shift Public Housing Authority (PHA) policy, in addition to utilizing National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) subsidy, to promote the development of ELI housing.
 They propose a regional approach to using rental housing vouchers controlled by Public Housing Authorities as a part of the financing of new housing units. In addition, they propose using NHTF as a partial rent subsidy to make higher income, tax credit units affordable to ELI families.

Congratulations to all the prizewinners!

We also want to thank the many other participants who dedicated time and effort to prepare and submit their ideas. We hope that we can work collaboratively to move the needle on ELI family housing in Massachusetts.

The Competition Launch, November 2015.

“I dare you to come up with a great idea for more affordable housing!” That was the clarion call issued by Department of Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay at the launch of the Innovation Competition on November 19th. The call rang through the halls of the State House, as leaders within the legislature, the administration and the housing field came together to announce the opening of the competition. Each speaker underscored the tremendous need for affordable housing in Massachusetts and called on the community to take up the challenge to innovate and propose new ideas. There was no speaker more moving than Christine Wright, a resident of Uphams Crossing in Dorchester. Introduced by Lisa Alberghini, President of the Planning Office of Urban Affairs, Christine shared the story of her struggles with great honesty, putting her brave face forward to show that housing is the foundation on which lives can be turned around.

Home Funders is grateful for the support of these leaders who inspired us with their words that day:

(Pictured at right from top):

Representative Kevin Honan, Co-Chair, Joint Committee on Housing

Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, Co-Chair, Joint Committee on Housing

Senator Jamie Eldridge, Chair, Joint Committee on Financial Services

MA DHCD Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay

EOHED Secretary Jay Ash

Christine Wright, resident of Uphams Crossing, Dorchester

View more pictures from the event.

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