About the Challenge

Identifying, accelerating and scaling the next generation of housing affordability solutions.

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The need for well-designed homes made affordable nationwide continues to exceed the supply. That demand reflects the impetus and inspiration behind the Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge.


Administered by Enterprise and made possible by the generous support of Wells Fargo, the challenge seeks to close the affordable housing gap by elevating and transforming housing affordability innovations into real solutions. It will award six grants of more than $2 million each, plus the opportunity to collaborate with a dedicated technical assistance team of Enterprise staff and other leaders in the affordable housing and community development.

Watch: Why innovation in housing affordability matters.

The primary goals of the Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge are to:

  • Identify, accelerate and scale promising ideas, models and approaches
  • Provide peer-to-peer learning and networking opportunities
  • Share ideas and models that engage a wider audience in the search for innovations
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Because housing affordability looks different in rural communities, tribal communities, cities and suburbs, the Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge is national in scope. Innovators in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, were invited to participate in the competitive application process launched in mid-January.

Transformative change in communities happens when the best ideas are paired with the right mix of resources and technical know-how, and the Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge allows us to do that six times over.

Three Programmatic Pillars

The challenge focuses on three pillars that are paramount to housing affordability:

  • Housing Finance
  • Housing Construction
  • Resident Services and Support

"With the Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge, we are bringing forward our financial resources combined with our business expertise to inspire vitally needed, scalable and effective housing affordability solutions."

─ Eileen Fitzgerald, Head of Housing Affordability Philanthropy, Wells Fargo Foundation

Three Rounds, Six Final Grantees

The challenge features three rounds, culminating in a pitch competition involving 15 finalists. The six grant recipients will be announced on September 22, 2020.

Grants will be awarded to two winners per each of the three focus areas: Housing Construction, Housing Finance, and Resident Services and Support. The two-year awards will include $2 million in direct grant assistance and $500,000 in technical assistance.

Ultimately, the challenge seeks a final cohort of grantees that represents a spectrum of breakthrough ideas for housing affordability, spanning different geographies, market situations, ideas and sponsors.

Watch: Why Innovation Matters

We're helping turn housing breakthrough ideas into real action.

So Many Great Ideas

Drawing nearly 900 applications, we cast a wide net in search of today’s great solutions – and those of the future.

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It’s About Solutions

Enterprise’s Christi Smith explains the importance of the challenge’s consensus-driven review process.

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A Focus on Innovation

Innovation matters because housing affordability challenges keep changing, says Enterprise’s Marion McFadden. 

Puerto Rico

Lifting Up Great Ideas

What makes the Breakthrough Challenge such a unique opportunity? Enterprise’s Erika Ruiz explains.

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A Tremendous Opportunity

Enterprise’s Meaghan Shannon-Vlkovic on why the time for new housing affordability solutions is now.

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A More Equitable Future

Enterprise’s Alexa Rosenberg on why innovation must incorporate new practices that promote economic mobility.

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Stay connected to news and announcements on the finalists and their breakthrough ideas.
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