Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is the challenge still accepting applications?
A: No, the deadline for Round 1 of the challenge was Feb. 19, 2020. Thank you to all who applied. Rounds 2 and 3 are by invitation only.
Q: What if I started my application in SlideRoom but did not submit it — can I still do so?
A: No, if you started an application but did not complete and submit it by February 19, 2020, you may not submit it.
Q: Should we use the character or word count when planning our application responses?
A: Answers must meet the character limit referenced in the application. Spaces and punctuation count as characters.
Q: How is “affordable housing” defined in the challenge?
A: We understand that affordability varies based on multiple factors, including geography and market conditions. We’re looking for innovations that address the needs of low- to moderate-income households, and will prioritize proposals serving 60 percent of area median income (AMI) and below. At the same time, we will exercise flexibility up to 80% AMI based on the nature of the idea (e.g., rental vs. homeownership) and market context. We also will consider mixed-income strategies in which its estimated that the innovation will serve a majority of households at or below 60 percent AMI.
Q: Can organizations submit more than one application?
A: Organizations can submit more than one application. However, only one application per idea will be allowed. In other words, organizations can submit multiple unique ideas to the same focus area. Organizations may also submit multiple unique ideas across different focus areas. However, we will not accept applications from different organizations for the same idea. Organizations must coordinate with their partners to determine one lead applicant. Finally, although organizations are permitted to submit more than one application, we strongly encourage you to prioritize your best ideas and submit one application.
Q: My innovation overlaps with two different focus areas. Can I apply for more than one focus area?
A: No. You must select one primary focus area that best aligns with your innovation. The application does allow you to specify if your innovation overlaps with another focus area. However, there is no advantage or preference given to innovations that address more than one focus area.
Q: What are the eligible expenses covered by this grant?
A: The grant funding is flexible and can be used for operational, programmatic and capital expenses.
Q: Are ideas involving single-family homes eligible?
A: Yes! Innovations involving single-family homes are eligible, as are innovations involving multifamily homes.
Q: Is this a national competition, or are there geographic focus areas?
A: The challenge is a national competition. Our goal is that the final six grantees will represent a geographically diverse cohort of innovations. Although we are not seeking to provide grants in specific locations, ideas designed to serve rural and/or tribal communities will receive a modest boost in our scoring criteria. Learn more about the challenge’s scoring criteria.
Q: Will you consider innovations related to homeownership?
A: Yes. Innovations can be related to both rental housing and homeownership.
Q: Can cities, states or local jurisdictions apply?
A: Government agencies cannot serve as lead applicants and will need to identify a nonprofit with 501(c)(3) status to serve as the lead applicant.
Q: Are applicants from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands eligible?
A: Yes. Applicants from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are eligible to apply.
Q: Can I apply to fill my project's funding gap?
A: No. The challenge will not make awards to individual deals, transactions or properties. We are looking for ideas with a plan for greater scale beyond the individual project level.
Q: Must an idea be something absolutely new, or can this funding opportunity be something to expand and/or enhance an existing idea?
A: The breakthrough idea can be brand new or it can be an expansion or enhancement of an existing idea.
Q: Does the challenge apply only to new construction, or are retrofit solutions eligible?
A: The challenge applies to both new construction and retrofits/rehabs.
Q: Are for-profit entities eligible to apply?
A: Yes. However, for-profit organizations are only eligible to apply to the Housing Construction focus area of the challenge. A nonprofit organization must serve as lead applicant on applications related to both the Housing Finance and the Resident Services and Support focus areas.
Q: What is applicable to Resident Services and Support?
A: We are seeking imaginative and scalable ideas that connect residents to opportunity and promote their individual agency and/or fill gaps in services and support. Ideas may focus on any sector of the community, including children, youth, families and seniors. Services should reflect residents’ interests and community priorities.
Q: I’m having technical issues with SlideRoom. Where can I get support?
A: SlideRoom has a lot of online resources for applicants. We recommend reviewing this page to see if your question is addressed in one of their step-by-step guides or to submit a support request.
Q: Will applicants be competing with ALL other applicants, or only those in the specific focus area?
A: Applicants will be competing with the other applicants in their specific focus area (Housing Financing, Housing Construction, Resident Services and Support)
Q: Are there any requirements as to the size, longevity, etc., of the 501(c)(3)?
A: The only requirement is that the nonprofit have a letter of determination from the Internal Revenue Service confirming its status as a 501(c)(3). The challenge is open to nonprofits of all sizes and ages.
Q: What is the award size for this challenge? Will awards be disbursed in a lump sum or over time?
A: Each award will consist of $2,000,000 in direct grant assistance and $500,000 in technical assistance. The awards will not be disbursed in a lump sum. Details of the disbursement schedule will be included in the grant agreement for each grantee.
Q: Is this a first-time offering or have you funded similar grants in the past?
A: This is a new, one-time challenge! There are currently no plans to make this an annual challenge or otherwise replicate it in the future.