Ten Ideas to Tackle America’s Housing Affordability Crisis

Today, Ivory Innovations announced the Top 10 finalists for the 2022 Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability, a national award to recognize ambitious, feasible, and scalable solutions to housing affordability. These finalists present tangible solutions as Americans are increasingly priced out of safe and affordable housing.

“America’s housing affordability challenges need innovative solutions more than ever. This year’s Ivory Prize finalists provide unique but scalable approaches to this complex problem,” said Kent Colton, Chair of the Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability’s Advisory Board. “We congratulate each of our finalists and encourage other innovators, funders, elected officials, and industry leaders to engage with these efforts to have the greatest impact possible.”

The Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability focuses on solutions from three categories: construction and design, finance, and public policy and regulatory reform. Ivory Innovations will announce the 2022 Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability winners via a Livestream event on May 19, 2022. The Prize awards more than $200,000 in prize money between at least three winners selected across the three award categories — construction and design, public policy and regulatory reform, and finance.

This year’s Top 10 finalists are (listed by category and alphabetical order):

Construction and Design
This year’s finalists in construction and design feature solutions looking to streamline and scale the adoption of ADUs; pioneer new approaches to supply chain, resource, and material management to both reduce costs but also have a broader social impact; and the continued evolution of modular construction to address the woefully inadequate productivity growth in construction over the past decade.

Homeowners Aren’t Developers: Unlocking The Potential of ADUs with Eightvillage | Atlanta, GA, USA
Eightvillage is a design and development firm focused on placemaking and community building. The firm started an initiative in 2019 called “Backyard ATL” that builds, designs, and manages ADUs for homeowners in Atlanta, GA, to create more affordable housing options in Atlanta’s low-income neighborhoods.

A Full Circle Forest: Sustainable Supply Chains with Forterra Forest to Home Initiative | Seattle, WA, USA
Forterra’s Forest to Home initiative brings together a coalition of Tribes, communities of color, land trusts, and architects to re-engineer the affordable housing supply chain. A Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) Modular prototype is at the center of the initiative. The CLT Modular prototype replaces traditional carbon-intensive building practices and materials, lowering the cost of construction with a triple bottom line solution to affordable housing.

A Turnkey Approach: Modular Housing with TBD – Volumetric Building Companies | Philadelphia, PA, USA
Volumetric Building Companies is a vertically integrated global volumetric modular construction leader headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, with locations across the United States and Europe. The company focuses on building the future by providing high-quality, sustainably produced buildings in less time across varied market sectors utilizing its technology-enabled design and engineering model, precision-driven manufacturing capabilities, and project-proven modular construction expertise.

Finance –
This year’s finalists in the finance category provide a diversity of approaches to help make housing more affordable and equitable through addressing legacy issues from the financial crisis, revolutionizing the home appraisal process, and empowering communities with new tools to address gentrification and displacement.

Stabilizing Families and Communities with Blackstar Stability | Washington D.C., USA
Blackstar Stability expands equitable ownership of affordable single-family homes by attacking predatory lending practices and restructuring distressed debt products. It works with families with land contracts and similar forms of seller financing to refinance their homes with traditional mortgages, improve their properties, and reduce costs.

Squaring Up the Appraisal Process with True Footage | Seattle, WA, USA
True Footage is building technology and a new community of appraisers to collect cleaner data and deliver a more standardized appraisal product that leverages data to inform and validate comparable sales and valuation analysis. True Footage is currently building alternative valuation strategies to evaluate systemic pricing gaps.

Harnessing Market Forces to Benefit Current Residents with Trust Neighborhoods | Kansas City, MO, USA
Trust Neighborhoods is a Kansas City-based nonprofit creating community-controlled real estate where gentrification threatens displacement. Trust Neighborhoods has designed and piloted a new, innovative approach to tackle affordable housing: the mixed-income neighborhood trust, or MINT, owns and operates a portfolio of rental housing under community control to maintain This year’s finalists in public policy and regulatory reform provide varying solutions to keeping individuals in housing through revitalizing communities from within, accelerating the approval process for affordable housing developments, bridging the financial gap that rent-burdened households face, and utilizing public/private partnerships to provide housing and supportive services.

Public Policy and Regulatory Reform

Rebuilding the Minority Middle Class with Build UP | Birmingham, AL, USA
Build UP’s value proposition redefines what affordable housing is by taking a long-game approach to rebuilding and owning from within a community. Build Up is the first group in Alabama to implement a curriculum designed by the Home Builders Institute, another Top 25 finalist. This model, at the intersection of high-quality education, workforce development, and community revitalization, results in dignified, affordable homeownership and retention of talent and wealth, both of which seed stable home and school experiences for generations to come.

Affordable Housing By Right in the City of Cambridge (AHO program) | Cambridge, MA, USA Cambridge, MA’s 100% Affordable Housing Overlay promotes more dense affordable housing development by non-profit developers, who often get priced by market-rate developers and are mired by cumbersome zoning, nimbyism, and multi-year project approvals.

Deploying Local Assistance for Renters with DC FLEX | Washington D.C., USA
DC Flex is a rent subsidy program that efficiently deploys local rental assistance funds, and it allows residents to choose how much financial assistance they need to pay rent each month. Unlike other programs, where rental assistance goes to landlords, DC Flex assistance goes directly to residents.

Securing Safe and Affordable Transitional Housing for College Students with LA Room and Board | Los Angeles, CA, USA
Los Angeles Room & Board’s mission is to end college student hunger and homelessness by partnering with university housing programs and campus adjacent property owners. They then reimagine the use of their vacant spaces to provide low & no-cost transitional housing designed to equip students with the tools they need to become more self-sufficient and to ensure they complete their college degree program.

Ivory Innovations is a nonprofit organization dedicated to catalyzing innovation in housing affordability. Ivory Innovations promotes the most compelling ideas by convening industry experts, inspiring students to tackle housing issues, sourcing and supporting the best innovative housing entrepreneurs, and putting these innovations into practice. For more information about the Ivory Prize and Ivory Innovations, visit

Forterra is an unconventional land trust that works across Washington’s communities and landscapes, from the ranches and shrub-steppe of the Yakima basin, to the estuaries, farms and forests of Washington’s coast, reaching more than 100 counties, cities, towns and rural communities. Working cooperatively with people and nature, Forterra drives land stewardship, management and planning, innovative programs and policies, farming and forestry approaches, community ownership opportunities, and development solutions. Visit

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