HUD Announces Finalists in Affordable Housing Innovation Competition

HUD Secretary Julián Castro (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

The four finalists in a HUD competition meant to encourage innovation in affordable housing design propose integrating senior services, community gardens and accommodations for very-low-income residents into a public housing project in Santa Barbara, California.

The third annual Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition challenged graduate students to rethink a specific public housing site by working in interdisciplinary teams. Each applicant group had to have representatives from at least three major fields, including at least one architecture or design student.

This year, HUD and Santa Barbara’s Housing Authority challenged the teams to consider options for rehabbing the current Monteria Village housing project or demolishing it and building anew. Contestants are required to consider not only planning and design, but also financing, community development and zoning restrictions.

“Boosting and improving affordable housing is critical to the mission of HUD and to ensuring that every American has access to safe and stable housing,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro in a statement. “By tapping the talents of top young people across the nation, we are finding new ways to tackle old challenges in federal government.”

Here, the four finalist teams.

A team from the University of Texas at Austin proposed adding 39 units to the project for a total of 67 renovated homes, which would increase density and add units for very low-income families. Their design also creates a central “family opportunity center” and an education center, and adds green stormwater capture infrastructure.

A University of Kansas group proposed adding a health and wellness “living lab” to the development to provide healthcare services to residents of all ages. Their facility also prioritizes accommodating seniors who wish to remain with their families and communities as their medical needs increase.

A team from the University of Maryland at College Park opted for new construction, with a mixture of housing options: 19 3-story townhouses, 14 2-story townhouses, and a 4-story multifamily development for a total of 48 affordable units. Their design also includes a food co-op, community center and a nearby community garden.

A Harvard University team created a 34-unit new construction development with a design intended to accommodate all types and sizes of family. Their design includes a community garden and an “opportunity center” that provides activities for residents and flexible communal space.

All four finalist groups will visit the Santa Barbara site in early March. The winning team, with the best overall concept for the Monteria Village redevelopment, will be announced in April. Chosen by a jury of academics, planners and architects, the first place team will receive $20,000 and the runner-up $10,000.