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Press Release

New Poll Finds Half of Americans Cannot Afford to Live Near Better Schools and Childcare

April 24, 2019

Fannie Mae Wants to Change that with $10 Million Innovation Challenge

Ashley Stoney


WASHINGTON, DC – In a recent poll, 46% of American adults said they would prefer to live in a community with access to better schools and/or childcare, but cannot afford to do so; while 58% say communities with better job opportunities are too expensive for them to live in.* To identify innovative solutions to this housing affordability crisis, today Fannie Mae (FNMA/OTCQB) announced a Call for Ideas that expand access to and increase the supply of quality affordable housing, and use housing as a lever to improve education outcomes and economic mobility for low-income households.

This marks the third and final phase of the Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge (The Challenge), a two-year, $10 million commitment by Fannie Mae to find promising solutions that address the nation's shortage of affordable housing through partnerships in sectors adjacent to housing.

"When families live in stable and affordable homes in a sustainable community, they have greater opportunities to prosper in other aspects of life, including educational and economic advancement," said Maria Evans, Vice President of Sustainable Communities, Fannie Mae. "When nearly 6 in 10 Americans have to sacrifice economic opportunities and nearly half have to sacrifice quality education and childcare because of housing affordability, it's clear we need to bring new ideas to the marketplace."

"The affordability, quality, and location of where one lives has substantial implications for outcomes in education and economic mobility," said Evans. "Through the Sustainable Communities Initiative, Fannie Mae aims not only to create stability through housing, but also to catalyze opportunities in education and forge pathways to economic mobility."

The third phase of The Challenge is seeking innovative ideas, including mature ideas and proven models that are ready to scale, that expand access to quality affordable housing for underserved and low-income people, while creating opportunities in education and forging pathways to economic mobility. An Expert Advisory Panel will assist in the evaluation of ideas and Fannie Mae will select contract awards up to $1.5 million.

The Call for Ideas on The Challenge opens today, April 24, 2019 and ends on May 30, 2019 at 5:00 p.m., Pacific Standard Time.

Applicants are asked to submit ideas that respond to one of the following problem statements:

  1. How might we prepare a workforce that is ready to participate in job opportunities that drive technological innovation in the housing industry?
  2. How might large employers or anchor institutions partner with the housing industry to ensure every resident in a community has a path to safe, quality, affordable housing?
  3. How might we use housing to increase the availability of and access to high-quality early childhood care and education that meets the needs of families in underserved areas?
  4. How might housing and education entities from the public, private, or nonprofit sectors partner to provide stable home and school experiences for very low-income students?

For more information about The Challenge and to apply, please visit

*The PSB Pulse Poll is an online survey among the General Population that covers a variety of topics, and is designed to gain fast, broad-reaching insights in a methodologically optimized environment. The Pulse Poll sample is weighted to match the US Census. This month's Pulse Poll was conducted between April 8-12, 2019. Fannie Mae commissioned PSB to conduct this Pulse Poll. To view an executive summary of the PSB Pulse Poll, please click here.

Sample Size: 988
Margin of Error: ±3.12%


The Sustainable Communities Initiative is an incubator for ideas that identify innovative solutions to address the affordable housing crisis. We strive to connect people with tools, and elevate and amplify ideas, to drive changes in the housing market around healthy, affordable housing and increased access to communities that are sustainable, offering quality education, healthy homes, and well–paying jobs. Sustainable Communities supports pilot programs that are then transitioned to Fannie Mae business units upon success.

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