Leadership

Four Teams Win The 2024 Ivory Prize For Housing Affordability

A competition in its 6th year celebrates the work of innovative organizations making an impact in housing affordability in three areas of focus: construction and design, finance, and policy and regulatory reform.

Leadership

Four Teams Win The 2024 Ivory Prize For Housing Affordability

A competition in its 6th year celebrates the work of innovative organizations making an impact in housing affordability in three areas of focus: construction and design, finance, and policy and regulatory reform.

May 16th, 2024
Four Teams Win The 2024 Ivory Prize For Housing Affordability
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Housing's 21st-century affordability challenge is a classic mystifying shape changer.

Fix part of the crisis, and you'll create unintended consequences that break other parts that work now as well as they might.

Many of these sticky, hard, and slippery problems are carry-overs from an equally intractable housing crisis in the 20th Century. Many look like they'll be part of the landscape in some form or fashion well into the 22nd Century.

Suppose you approach the challenge strictly from a policy standpoint. In that case, it's unlikely that private-sector players will evolve to drive greater efficiency into their own systems, processes, operations, and capital investment models.

Instead, what if you try to isolate on building technologies and structural designs that reduce time and materials waste, cut down on front-line worker labor days and hours, and create materials supply chain super-efficiencies? Upfront capital investment costs – now dramatically less patient in a higher-for-longer interest rate era – local inspection timelines, NIMBYism, and ingrained community-of-practice rules and traditions around construction trade crews and terms all conspire to weigh against any fast transformation.

Lastly, how about catalyzing housing affordability solutions with capital investment, financial tools, and government-backed lending at the entity or granular household levels?

Once more, the center won't hold. While rewarding some folks or organizations, the impact of too many of these programs tends to punish or at least disincentivize other groups or individuals. Without merit, striving, and resolve – at both the personal household level and private sector enterprise level – special capital investment schemes typically break as much or more as they fix.

Truly innovative housing affordability solutions – and ones that can continue to adapt to accelerating shifts and pivots from the block level to Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and Capitol Hill and beyond – need not only to be able to secure a foothold on shifting ground beneath them, but to constantly adapt and evolve as a torrent of political, technological, financial, and social changes play out, testing their value model again and again over time.

This is why it's less the 2024 version of an innovation model – even one that has gained early-stage traction or demonstrated an ability to scale or been around long enough to have withstood an economic cycle or two – that an expert panel of judges of the 2024 Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability zeroed in on in this year's robust crop of more than 200 nominations to recognize and celebrate winners.

It's more about evidence that each of the innovation models themselves can straddle construction and design, policy, and finance in integrated solutions powered by technology, data, and AI, not just to affect outcomes but to set up learning and discovery feedback loops that build resiliency and adaptiveness into these solutions.

And, most importantly, it's about the founder and key stakeholder teams and their own willingness and capability to encounter unknowns, turbulence, and outright opposition in the face of their efforts. It's their ability to take on the U.S. housing affordability crisis' character and nature itself – as mercurial and painfully frustrating as it will always be – and remain fearless and driven, that we celebrate and salute in this recognition award.

Now, we share news of this year's winners of the 2024 Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability. The Builder's Daily, as it has done now since we started up, will be unpacking individual stories of each honoree in the weeks to come.

Here's the press statement on the 2024 winners.

[Editor's Note: Provided text follows:]

Ivory Innovations, a leading non-profit organization dedicated to addressing the housing affordability crisis, proudly announces the winners of the highly anticipated 2024 Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability. A competition in its 6th year that celebrates the work of innovative organizations making an impact in housing affordability in three areas of focus: construction and design, finance, and policy and regulatory reform. This year Ivory Innovations is championing the work of four remarkable Ivory Prize winners.

The winners of the 2024 Ivory Prize are a testament to the power of bold new ideas in housing,” said Clark Ivory, CEO of Ivory Homes and Founder of Ivory Innovations. “Housing affordability is a continued and growing challenge for millions of Americans and we need innovative solutions of all types to make a difference in the housing industry. We invite you to join us in learning about and celebrating new housing approaches that have the potential to make exceptional positive change.”

The four extraordinary organizations selected this year have emerged as champions of innovation, demonstrating outstanding ambition, feasibility, and scalability in their efforts to tackle the urgent issue of housing affordability. Ivory Innovations will distribute a total of $300,000 in prize money to support the transformative initiatives of these deserving winners.

The winners of the 2024 Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability are addressing today’s housing challenges with unique perspectives and novel ideas. Through Villa’s asset-light infill model, they implement housing density at scale while maintaining a dedication to thoughtful design. The City of San Diego’s ADU Bonus Program allows for the creation of much-needed “missing middle” housing by creating an effective local incentive to build ADUs. The Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County’s Housing Production Fund allocates funds to the development of more housing in the county and specifically more affordable housing development. Finally, FirstRepair builds on the revolutionary work of Evanston, Illinois’, where they passed reparations in the form of a housing-dedicated payment, and hopes to bring this model to other regions across the US. These winners embody innovation, equity, transparency, and efficiency, collectively driving solutions for housing affordability.

Construction & Design Winner

Villa | San Francisco, CA

Using an asset-light approach to deploy housing in missing middle infill locations, Villa is prepared and committed to meeting the housing needs of communities across America.

We are absolutely thrilled for Villa to be the winner of the Construction & Design category of the 2024 Ivory Prize," said Sean Roberts, CEO of Villa. "Our entire team is grateful and honored to have Villa's hard work recognized by the Ivory Innovations team. The root cause of America's housing affordability and availability challenges is decades of housing underproduction. The housing shortage is even more severe for people seeking smaller, entry-level homes in desirable locations where they want to live, work, and go to school. Our mission at Villa is simple: to be the easiest, fastest, and most cost-efficient way to build homes. We are focused on building these much-needed homes in infill locations using prefabricated construction and we're excited to continue to grow Villa with the enhanced support from the Ivory Innovations ecosystem."

Finance Winner

Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County: Housing Production Fund | Kensington, MD

Using an innovative funding and development model to create mixed-income social housing, with 30% of units dedicated to low-income families.

The Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County is honored that our Housing Production Fund (HPF) was selected as a 2024 Ivory Prize winner and we are proud to be recognized as a ‘housing visionary,’” said HOC President Chelsea Andrews. “The HPF is revolutionizing the way affordable housing is financed and its wisdom has been validated not only by the Ivory Prize award judges, but by the communities across the country that already are replicating it to meet their own affordable housing needs. We sincerely thank Ivory Innovations for this amazing honor.”

 Policy & Regulatory Reform Co-Winner

The City of San Diego: ADU Bonus Program | San Diego, CA

Incentivizing ADU development in the City of San Diego to increase density in single-family neighborhoods and the supply of deed-restricted units.

Being recognized by Ivory Innovations for aggressive changes to our local Land Development Code to allow for a large-scale increase in Accessory Dwelling Unit production is an honor for the City of San Diego.”, said Development Services Department Assistant Director Gary Geiler, leader of the City’s Accessory Dwelling Unit program. “Coupling density bonuses for affordable units and the ability to more efficiently utilize high-cost land parcels with multiple ADUs by waiving Development Impact Fees together have created a wave of new development that did not previously exist. In addition, the DSD team prioritized ADU reviews, delivering the reviewed permits quickly and ministerially, thus contributing to cost savings by the ADU developer. We hope to see thousands more ADUs in the near future.”

 Policy & Regulatory Reform Co-Winner

FirstRepair | Evanston, IL

Prioritizing localized housing-related redress as a first step to repair the legacy of slavery in the United States.

When I began our reparations work in Evanston and later founded FirstRepair, I didn’t think that our work might be eligible for a housing award," said Robin Rue Simmons, the Executive Director of FirstRepair. “Our work began from listening to the community, and one of the most important topics for Evanston community members was housing. FirstRepair’s goal is to support reparations programs that best fit the needs of the local communities we work with. And, like Evanston, many communities around the country face serious housing challenges. Being selected as an Ivory Prize winner not only validates our work as a solution for racial equity but also as a solution at the forefront of housing innovation."

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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