Wells Fargo Partners on $20M Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge

The Wells Fargo Foundation has expanded its commitment to housing affordability through another $20 million competition with Enterprise Community Partners to find housing solutions.

The second Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge will once again focus on three categories: Financing, Construction, and Access and Resident Support. Innovators are invited to compete for grants of up to $3 million and two years of technical assistance to transform ideas into solutions that can be replicated in the real-world. Applications will open Tuesday, January 31, 2023, and submissions will be accepted through March 3, 2023.

Recent research shows that millions of U.S. households are unable to find an affordable home, and nearly seven million homes are needed for renters with extremely low incomes to attain housing stability in urban, suburban, and rural areas alike.

“Wells Fargo created the Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge to engage entrepreneurs and social innovators and advance ideas that can improve housing opportunities for millions,” said Otis Rolley, President of the Wells Fargo Foundation and Head of Philanthropy and Community Impact. “We urgently need to reimagine access to quality affordable places to live in the U.S., which is so tightly linked to economic stability, physical and mental health, and ultimately generational wealth. This $20 million in funding effectively doubles our commitment to find creative solutions to this pressing problem.”

The 2023 Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge will consider Native, rural, suburban, Tribal, and urban solutions which have the potential to transform current practices and processes and lay the groundwork for increased housing affordability, access, and stability. Interested organizations can learn more about the competition and how to apply on Enterprise’s website.

“We cannot address the serious housing affordability gap in this country without improving access and creating cost savings that will help boost supply. The Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge has proven that investing in pathbreaking innovations at the local level is a powerful way to build more equity and affordability in our communities nationwide,” said Jacqueline Waggoner, President of Enterprise’s Solutions Division. “We are proud to join Wells Fargo once again as we focus on uplifting and strengthening the most promising ideas to meet the urgent need for more affordable homes and better serve individuals and families across the country.”

A variety of entities are eligible to submit an application, including non-profits, Tribal organizations, and mission-driven for-profit entities in 38 markets where Wells Fargo and Enterprise can provide additional infrastructure to support implementation and help scale the winning innovations: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Washington D.C., Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Through a three-round competition, winning innovations will be selected by a panel of judges, including leaders from Enterprise, Wells Fargo, and nationally recognized community development and housing experts. The winners are expected to be announced in fall 2023, with the opportunity to take part in a multi-year initiative to share ideas and cultivate their innovations into solutions that can be applied in communities across the U.S.

The inaugural Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge was launched in 2020, and attracted more than 800 applications and ultimately awarded six organizations with $2.5 million in grants each to implement their solutions in housing construction, finance, and resident support and services.

One of the 2020 Breakthrough Challenge winners is cdcb | come dream. come build. in Brownsville, Texas, which together with buildingcommunityWORKSHOP, created a modular housing innovation called MiCASiTA—a more sustainable rural homeownership idea that allows families to grow the size of their home as their finances and dreams evolve.

“The Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge gave us the time and resources to get to work,” said cdcb Executive Director Nick Mitchell-Bennett. “And with that support, we now actually have a sustainable modular housing product that can be replicated and scaled.”

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