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National Affordable Housing Nonprofit Receives $2.5 Million Award to Promote Resiliency in Affordable Housing

Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge by Enterprise Community Partners and Wells Fargo names six winners out of nearly 900 applications from across the U.S.

Boston, MAEnterprise Community Partners (Enterprise) and Wells Fargo today named national nonprofit housing developer Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) one of the six winners of the Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge, a nationwide competition that began in January 2020 to find the most innovative and scalable solutions to increase housing affordability across the U.S.. The six winning organizations will each receive $2 million in grants and two years of technical assistance valued at $500,000, facilitated by Enterprise, to realize their innovative concepts. 

POAH is a national non-profit with a mission to preserve, create and sustain affordable, healthy homes that support economic security, racial equity and access to opportunity for all. POAH’s breakthrough idea is the Designing Trauma-Resilient Communities project, a collaborative, human-centered design process to cultivate trauma-informed care within affordable rental housing. 

POAH will partner with five talented organizations from around the country, including Design Impact (Cincinnati, OH), Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF) (Washington, DC), The Center for Trauma Informed Innovation at Truman Medical Centers (Kansas City, MO), Community Services League (Independence, MO) and MASS Design Group (Boston, MA). Together, alongside residents and staff members, the project team will explore trauma-informed innovations in resident services, property management and physical design. The result will be a more equitable model for affordable housing that reduces evictions, improves resident and staff retention; promotes healthy, physical design; and contributes to individual and community resiliency.  

“We are very grateful to Enterprise Community Partners and Wells Fargo for funding this important resident services initiative,” said Aaron Gornstein, President and CEO of POAH.  “We believe that applying trauma-informed care principles and practices to affordable housing is an idea whose time has come.  The COVID-19 pandemic and the growing need to address racial injustices make this even more urgent today. We look forward to getting started with our partners so that we can help make a positive impact on our residents, staff, and affordable housing providers across the country,” Gornstein said.

The competition drew close to 900 highly competitive applications from 49 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. After two application rounds, 15 finalists were invited to offer a detailed application proposal and present a 10-minute virtual pitch to an independent panel of judges composed of leading national affordable housing and community development experts. The judges heard five pitches for each of the Breakthrough Challenge’s three focus areas – Housing Construction, Housing Finance, and Resident Services and Support. Finally, six winners were chosen, two from each focus area.

The other competition grant winners are: cdcb come dream. come build. (Texas), Forterra NW (Washington), Center for New York City Neighborhoods (New York), Gulf Coast Housing Partnership (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi)and Impact Justice (California).

“Housing affordability is directly tied to racial equity and both are urgent issues fundamentally impacting every community in our country. That is what makes the Breakthrough Challenge so important right now,” said Priscilla Almodovar, chief executive officer at Enterprise Community Partners. “We’re thrilled to support our grantees and the next generation of housing solutions through these six visionary proposals. Enterprise is incredibly grateful for the generous financial resources and tremendous expertise brought by the Wells Fargo team throughout the competition.”

“Too often good ideas are overlooked because they need expertise and resources to bring them to scale,” said Nate Hurst, president of the Wells Fargo Foundation. “We are delighted to join Enterprise Community Partners to engage creative innovators with know-how, technical skill, and imagination, who are now awarded catalytic funding to transform their housing affordability ideas into real solutions on the ground.”

The Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge is part of Wells Fargo’s $1 billion commitment to support housing affordability solutions nationwide by 2025. 

Entrants were asked to specifically demonstrate how their breakthrough ideas addressed racial equity and environmental considerations. The applications varied widely, demonstrating a commitment to reframing approaches to single-family and multifamily housing challenges and addressing the wide-ranging needs of homeowners, renters, children, youth, families and seniors in communities across the United States. 

For more information on the competition, as well as the finalists and their winning proposals, visit the Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge website.

POAH is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve, create and sustain affordable, healthy homes that support economic security, racial equity and access to opportunity for all. POAH owns and operates nearly 12,000 affordable rental homes in 11 states and the District of Columbia.

The pilot sites: Hawthorne Apartments (Independence Missouri), Cincinnati Apartments (Cincinnati, Ohio), Brandy Hill (Wareham, Massachusetts) 

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