Innovation, In Living Color

Construction manager walking across wooden floor while giving instructions to the crew

If the last two years have shown us anything, it’s that working virtually hasn’t hampered the drive and determination to identify affordable housing solutions. But sometimes, you just need to see the work up close – and meet the people making it happen.

That’s what occurred in late April, when winners of the Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge gathered in the Rio Grande Valley. While the teams have continued to meet virtually, this was their first-ever in-person cohort experience. Hosted by Brownsville, Texas-based Breakthrough Challenge winner cdcb | come dream. come build., representatives from each winning innovation and their lead partners were on site to share milestones, challenges and aspirations as they continue their journeys of turning breakthrough ideas into replicable housing solutions.

Enterprise is proud to lead the Breakthrough Challenge with the support of Wells Fargo. Also on site in Brownsville: Wells Fargo Head of Housing Affordability Philanthropy Eileen Fitzgerald; Connie Wright, SVP, Social Impact Lead – Housing Stability; and Enterprise Chief Program Officer Judi Kende.

cdcb and its partner, buildingcommunityWORKSHOP, showed fellow grantees the remarkable progress they have made over the past year. The cohort toured The Farm – the manufacturing site built to “grow” their sustainable modular homeownership innovation, MiCASiTA – and visited the first prototype. MiCASiTA promises a new gateway to affordable homeownership and generational wealth for rural and tribal families across the United States. The innovation features an app that gives families a stake in the design, size and layout of their home. A financing component allows families to grow their homes and build equity as their finances improve.

Earlier this month cdcb brought leaders from Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta and Indian country to Brownsville to learn more about MiCASiTA. According to cdcb Executive Director Nick Mitchell-Bennett, already the interest has been phenomenal.

“There's a lot that we still don't know. But folks see the value in MiCASiTA. They see it making sense in their regions and with their clients. That’s been really exciting and validating,” said Mitchell-Bennett.

See highlights of the Breakthrough Challenge convening in the slideshow below. 

Sharing the Work Up Close

Representatives from all six Breakthrough Challenge innovation teams met in Texas in spring 2022.

A team of people visiting a construction site for a new building project

A Homegrown Solution

cdcb and partner buildingcommunityWORKSHOP led tours of MiCASiTA, their modular homeownership innovation.

Three men standing on a construction site talking

The Power of Peer Learning

Christi Smith led the innovation teams through a rich agenda of dialogue, engagement and discoveries

A woman standing at the front of the room making a presentation to a group of people

Underwriting for Good

Team members from CNYCN and partner Decision Science Analytics share their tool to end discriminatory lending

A man talking to a woman during lunch as she eats

Forest to Home

Team members from Forterra and partner Hilltop Action Coalition map out their innovation’s stakeholders

A man and a woman standing at a white board discussing a project

Health + Housing

Mississippi State Sen. John Horhn joined innovation winner Gulf Coast Housing Partnership in Brownsville, Tex.

Two men and one woman sitting at a table talking and working on a project

The Homecoming Project

Team members from Impact Justice share insights on their community reentry innovation

Two women looking at notes and discussing them

Trauma Resilient Communities

Leaders of Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), joined by partner Design Impact, discuss stakeholders

Two women discussing information on a white board