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Press Release

$10 Million Fannie Mae Innovation Challenge Selects Five Proposals

January 15, 2020
Innovative Ideas Offer Solutions that Tackle Challenges to Affordable Housing

Ashley Stoney

WASHINGTON, DC – Fannie Mae (FNMA/OTCQB) today announced the selection of five innovative ideas to receive contract awards under phase three of the Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge (The Challenge). The Challenge is a nationwide competition to generate solutions to the nation's affordable housing issues. In the final phase, Fannie Mae sought innovations at the intersection of affordable housing, education, and economic mobility.

"Safe, stable, affordable housing is a fundamental component to an individual’s overall well-being and quality of life," said Maria Evans, Vice President, Sustainable Communities Partnership and Innovation, Fannie Mae. "The five proposals we selected offer compelling solutions to persistent problems. We are excited to work with these organizations to increase the supply and improve the quality of affordable housing, prepare the next generation of workers in skilled trades, and increase access to early learning in healthy, thriving communities across the country."

Contract Awardees and Their Innovative Ideas

  • Increasing Housing Supply Through an Integrated Education Program: Build UP is a workforce development program in Birmingham, AL that prepares at-risk, low-income young people for paid apprenticeships in real estate and construction. Build UP apprentices will add to the local affordable housing stock by rehabilitating abandoned homes, blighted properties, and relocated donated homes that would otherwise be demolished. Upon graduating from the six-year program, students will have earned both a high school diploma and an associate degree, and they will receive the deeds for two rehabilitated properties – one to own and one to rent to a low-income family as a supplemental source of income.
  • Developing Valuable Skills in Green Construction and Geospatial Technology: Guilford County Schools will expand its career and technical education through Safer Together Green Housing. The dual-curriculum program focuses on construction and technical education, to build a pipeline of skilled trade workers to help address the local labor shortage. The program's hands-on educational components allow students to work directly with contractors and other technicians to rehabilitate local homes and develop valuable, in-demand skills in construction. The project aims to increase the availability of affordable housing in Greensboro, NC while also preparing a future workforce for well-paying jobs in construction.      
  • Expanding Access to Financial Literacy Training to Facilitate Resilient Homeownership: The Community Development Corporation of Brownsville (CDCB) will increase access to its comprehensive financial capability services in Brownsville, TX by partnering with two local employers to offer services, including housing counseling, financial literacy education, and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) tax preparation services to employees at each worksite. CDCB will also enhance its services with Financial and Physical Health and Wealth (FPHW) metrics and data analysis methodology and develop a client-facing portal where individuals can independently monitor their FPHW metrics and action plans. CDCB's programming helps families and communities build wealth by addressing the root cause of chronic financial insecurity and helping low-income families achieve stable homeownership.
  • Exploring Ways to Stabilize Housing for Homeless Students: UPD Consulting and Baltimore City Department of Housing & Community Development have teamed up to develop a plan to create a network of long-term, temporary housing for families in Baltimore, MD with children enrolled in Pre-K through 3rd grade who experience homelessness or housing instability. The housing, which will be acquired from Baltimore City’s inventory of vacant houses, will be located near targeted schools, minimizing the likelihood of the child needing to change schools during the school year. Once re-housed, families will receive supportive services that will ultimately help them return to permanent housing.
  • Expanding Affordable Housing and Early Childhood Education: The Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation (GNDC) will scale its innovative housing and early childhood education model by partnering with a preschool to expand housing and education opportunities for low- and moderate-income families in an underserved neighborhood in southeast Austin, TX. GNDC’s housing-plus-education model builds affordable housing on underutilized land owned by local schools, while also expanding school resources. GNDC will partner with Escuela Montessori de Montopolis to develop a state-of-the-art preschool campus that will expand early learning opportunities and add approximately 90 units of affordable housing.

These contract awardees were selected in the third phase of Fannie Mae's Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge. To learn more about the five contract awardees and their innovative solutions, please visit

The Sustainable Communities Initiative supports innovative solutions to address the affordable housing crisis. We strive to connect people with tools, elevate and amplify ideas, and drive changes in the housing market that increase access to affordable housing located in healthy, thriving, sustainable neighborhoods that offer quality education, healthy homes, and well-paying jobs.

Fannie Mae helps make the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and affordable rental housing possible for millions of Americans. We partner with lenders to create housing opportunities for families across the country. We are driving positive changes in housing finance to make the home buying process easier, while reducing costs and risk. To learn more, visit and follow us on