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Press Release

Fannie Mae Selects Proposals for Phase One of $10 Million ‘Innovation Challenge’

June 20, 2018

Alicia Jones


The selected proposals come from Florida, Ohio, and Colorado with ideas focused on the expansion of affordable housing development and onsite healthcare workforce training, Accessory Dwelling Unit development as an affordable housing option for residents in gentrifying neighborhoods, and transforming vacant commercial property into entrepreneurial co-housing in low-income communities.

WASHINGTON, DC – Fannie Mae (FNMA/OTC) today announced the three innovative ideas selected for Phase 1 of its Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge (The Challenge). The Challenge is a $10 million initiative launched late last year, aimed at developing collaborative, cross-sector approaches that advance sustainable communities to help address the nation’s affordable housing issues. Phase 1 focused on supporting the research, design, and development of new ideas and innovative solutions at the intersection of affordable housing and employment opportunities.

The proposals selected offer solutions focused on affordable workforce housing development, accessory dwelling unit development in gentrifying neighborhoods, and a pathway for development of vacant commercial space into entrepreneurial co-housing in low-income communities.

“We received hundreds of proposals from across the U.S., and these ideas reflect the most innovative thinking on creative ways to increase opportunities for local residents. We look forward to working with the selected organizations and their community partners to make a difference in tackling the affordability crisis and supporting sustainable, healthy communities,” said Maria Evans, Vice President, Sustainable Communities Partnership and Innovation, Fannie Mae. 

Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge Final Selections for Phase 1:

  • Florida Housing Coalition

A nonprofit, statewide membership organization, based in Tallahassee, whose mission is to bring together housing advocates and resources so that all Floridians have a quality affordable home and suitable living environment.

Idea summary: Reuse vacant commercial space for entrepreneurial co-housing in low-income communities, as an opportunity to advance local economies and stabilize housing costs.

  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital

A top-10 pediatric system based in Columbus, OH that leads Healthy Neighborhoods Healthy Families programs in housing, workforce education, safety, and wellness.

Idea summary: Expand a newly developed affordable workforce housing development with an integrated onsite healthcare workforce training program, and offer affordable rental housing within one mile of the hospital.

  • West Denver Renaissance Collaborative

A developer, based in Denver, CO sponsored by the Denver Housing Authority, serving low-income

Idea summary: Fight the displacement of current residents by introducing a new accessory dwelling unit development program that supports low-income residents in gentrifying neighborhoods.

Proposals were evaluated against a predetermined set of criteria set forth in the Request for Proposal (RFP) and went through multiple rounds of review, including a semi-final review by an Expert Advisory Panel comprised of leaders from public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

The number of cost-burdened households remains critically high nationwide. About one-third of U.S. households are “cost-burdened,” meaning they pay more than 30 percent of their incomes for housing. Rising rents and mortgage costs along with stagnant wages are pricing more people out of the market and forcing them to live farther from their jobs. “Fannie Mae decided to focus the first round of The Challenge at the intersection of affordable housing and employment opportunities, because we believe that housing can be the platform to successful employment and potential income generation, a prevalent theme emphasized in our three selected proposals,” said Evans.

Fannie Mae will launch two more phases to attract innovative ideas that advance thriving communities and address the nation’s housing needs.  The next phase will begin in the fall.

To learn more about The Challenge, the three innovative ideas selected, recognition spotlight, and future phases visit

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