2019 Ivory Prize Winners Announced: Four Innovators to Tackle Housing Affordability

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 10, 2019) - Factory OS and Landed in San Francisco, Home Partners of America in Chicago and The Alley Flat Initiative in Austin have been selected by Ivory Innovations as winners of the inaugural Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability. The national innovation challenge sheds light on emerging and impactful solutions seeking to address America’s housing affordability challenges.

“America is suffering with a housing affordability crisis. Through the Ivory Prize process, we have learned that a key part of the prescription is innovation, one step at a time,” said Clark Ivory, CEO of Ivory Homes. “Our winners show true potential to fundamentally reshape the housing industry, whether that is lowering costs from modular building, to increasing income with accessory dwelling units, or discovering new approaches to break down financial barriers to homeownership.”

The four winning efforts, which were chosen by an advisory board made up of national housing leaders, were recognized at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The advisory board includes, Kent Colton, Colton Housing Group; Carol Galante, Terner Center for Housing Innovation; Chris Herbert, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies; Laurie Goodman, Urban Institute; and Natalie Gochnour, Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. Winners received cash prizes up to $50,000, introductions to hundreds of impact investors and publicity from HanleyWood, one of the leading business-to- business media companies in the United States.

Selection of the winners was based on their efforts to develop ambitious, feasible, and scalable solutions to housing affordability within three areas of focus: construction and design; finance; and public policy and regulatory reform.

Details on the winners:
Construction and Design Winner: Factory_OS

Factory_OS is transforming the construction industry by vertically integrating 21st century off-site building technologies, software operating systems, lean manufacturing, and workforce development. They are striving to deliver multifamily housing more than 40% faster and at 20% lower cost.

Almost half of the nominations for the Ivory Prize were in the area of Construction and Design (46%), and nine out of ten of those nominations were modular/factory-built approaches -- many with the goal of increasing construction productivity and bringing down housing costs. Factory_OS stood out in this group. They are currently executing on 40,000 orders and delivering in professional fashion.

Finance Co-Winner: Landed

Landed is on a mission to help essential professionals (starting with educators) build financial security near the communities they serve. They invest alongside teachers and school staff when they are ready to buy a home in expensive cities. The Landed “shared appreciation” model has broad applicability and could make a significant impact. To date, Landed has helped nearly 150 public school teachers and employees purchase homes valued at $100 million. Landed in helping teachers help put deep roots in their communities.

In high priced communities the down payment is a daunting challenge for many people striving to afford work force housing. The availability of an “equity partner” can be an essential ingredient to achieving homeownership.

Finance Co-Winner: Home Partners of America

Home Partners of America (HPA) launched in January 2013 in response to the impact the Great Recession and foreclosure crisis had on millions of homeowners, Home Partners of America has built an innovative financing and operating platform that has enabled thousands of households who currently are not mortgage-qualified to gain access to quality for-sale listed homes in local neighborhoods by participating in their lease-purchase program. Since its launch, HPA has purchased over 12,000 homes in 40 metropolitan markets and 20 states nationwide for a total investment of over $3.5

billion. Over 800 resident households have exercised their “right to purchase” and have successfully purchased their home utilizing the lender of their choice.
Beginning in 2019, HPA is now piloting a program to target low-to-moderate income households. This program known as Choice Lease supports residents whose household income is at or below 100% area median income (AMI), with an expected average of 80% AMI. Funding for this program is provided through socially motivated capital.

Public Policy and Regulation Reform: The Alley Flat Initiative

The Alley Flat Initiative (TAFI) was recognized based on their innovative efforts to change the policy framework in Austin, Texas to allow for the adoption of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) – often using underutilized alleys to create additional dwelling units by tucking small, single-family homes (ADUs called Alley Flats) on existing lots. In addition, the Alley Flat Initiative has developed a “one-stop shop” for income-qualified homeowners providing personalized support through the development process including green design, financial education and pre-qualification, property management and construction guidance.

Also, The Alley Flat Initiative has partnered with the City of Austin’s policymakers and department leaders to design development incentive programs to promote income- restricted ADUs and to provide assistance to lower-income owner-developers who are facing displacement, due to rapid growth, so that these individuals are able to increase their income from the rent generated by the Alley Flats.

Additional recognition

The advisory board also recognized Hello Housing of Oakland in the Public Policy and Regulation Reform category and Century Partners in Detroit in the Construction and Design category as runners-up.

The next annual Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability will be open to application in October of 2019.

Michael Parker