WASHINGTON – Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise) and Wells Fargo named Forterra one of the six winners of the Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge, a nationwide competition that began in January 2020 to find the most innovative and scalable solutions to increase housing affordability across the U.S. The six winning organizations will each receive $2 million in grants and two years of technical assistance valued at $500,000, facilitated by Enterprise, to realize their innovative concepts.
Forterra is a Washington-based nonprofit that enhances, supports and stewards the region’s most precious resources — its communities and its landscapes. The nonprofit has developed a modular cross laminated timber prototype, what they call Modular CLT, to re-engineer the affordable housing supply chain through a beautiful, highly modular building material.
Propelled by community engagement and a coalition of partners, Modular CLT can create rural jobs and mitigate climate change if timber is harvested responsibly. Forterra is working in collaboration with communities of color in Tacoma and Tukwila, as well as rural towns such as Hamilton and Roslyn. The Modular CLT coalition consists communities of color, land trusts, timber technicians, and more.
“This grant award provides our coalition and other community partners critical resources to complete the design of prototypes that will increase the availability and affordability of housing through replicable and scalable innovation,” said Forterra President & CEO Michelle Connor. “This award enables our region to connect the well-being of rural and urban communities, jobs and the health of our environment.”
The competition drew close to 900 highly competitive applications from 49 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. After two application rounds, 15 finalists were invited to offer a detailed application proposal and present a 10-minute virtual pitch to an independent panel of judges composed of leading national affordable housing and community development experts. The judges heard five pitches for each of the Breakthrough Challenge’s three focus areas – Housing Construction, Housing Finance, and Resident Services and Support. Finally, six winners were chosen, two from each focus area.
The other competition grant winners are: cdcb come dream. come build. (Texas), Center for New York City Neighborhoods (New York), Gulf Coast Housing Partnership (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi), Preservation of Affordable Housing (Ohio, Massachusetts, Missouri) and Impact Justice (California).
“Housing affordability is directly tied to racial equity and both are urgent issues fundamentally impacting every community in our country. That is what makes the Breakthrough Challenge so important right now,” said Priscilla Almodovar, chief executive officer at Enterprise Community Partners. “We’re thrilled to support our grantees and the next generation of housing solutions through these six visionary proposals. Enterprise is incredibly grateful for the generous financial resources and tremendous expertise brought by the Wells Fargo team throughout the competition.”
“We believe having a safe, healthy and affordable place to call home is essential to help lay the foundation for wellness, dignity and economic opportunity, but far too many people struggle with housing instability,” said Eileen Fitzgerald, head of housing affordability philanthropy with the Wells Fargo Foundation. “We are delighted to have joined Enterprise Community Partners to engage creative innovators with know-how, technical skill, and imagination, who are now awarded catalytic funding to transform their housing affordability ideas into real solutions on the ground.”
The Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge is part of Wells Fargo’s $1 billion commitment to support housing affordability solutions nationwide by 2025.
Entrants were asked to specifically demonstrate how their breakthrough ideas addressed racial equity and environmental considerations. The applications varied widely, demonstrating a commitment to reframing approaches to single-family and multifamily housing challenges and addressing the wide-ranging needs of homeowners, renters, children, youth, families and seniors in communities across the United States.
For more information on the competition, as well as the finalists and their winning proposals, visit the Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge website.
Managing Director of Media Relations and Storytelling, Forterra
Forterra is a Washington-based nonprofit that enhances, supports, and stewards the region’s most precious resources — its communities and its ecosystems. Forterra conserves and stewards land, develops innovative policies, and supports sustainable rural and urban development. In its 30-year history, Forterra has helped conserve more than 250,000 acres. Its work stretches from the farmlands and river canyons of Yakima to the estuaries and forests of Washington’s coastline, reaching more than 100 counties, cities, and towns. Visit www.forterra.org.