Perspectives

Affordable Housing as the Prescription for a Healthy Life

Submit your ideas to The Challenge: Healthy Affordable Housing

Maria EvansIt's hard to believe that it's been almost a year since we launched The Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge, a $10 million open competition that generates solutions to help Fannie Mae address the nation's affordable housing issues. Fannie Mae is committed to advancing sustainable communities – safe, stable, thriving, vibrant communities that are resilient to shocks and stresses, and that offer residents integrated access to quality affordable housing and quality economic, health, and educational opportunities.

The first phase of The Challenge focused on identifying solutions at the intersection of affordable housing with employment and economic opportunity. We received hundreds of high-quality proposals reflecting original and creative ways to increase opportunities for local residents, and we awarded contracts to advance three innovative ideas.

Now, we're excited to launch the next phase, The Challenge: Healthy Affordable Housing, which is focused on the intersection of affordable housing with health and wellness.

In underserved communities, unhealthy living conditions, such as homes with environmental toxins or homes that lack accessibility features, can compromise the health of the residents of that household. Respiratory problems, stress-related illness, and frequent or repeat hospitalizations are just a few of the problems caused by homes that don’t support overall health and wellness.

These are some examples of how housing and health are inextricably linked, yet they are nearly always addressed separately. What if we instead reimagine quality affordable housing as the prescription for a healthy life?

If you're a creative mind or problem solver, we'd really like to hear your ideas around one or more of the following problem statements:

  1. How might we use innovative technology and design to improve affordable homes in order to better support health, promote overall wellness, or prevent disease and illness?
  2. How might finance vehicles be leveraged to incentivize the creation of affordable homes that promote health and wellness?
  3. How might we foster design that promotes diverse, sustainable, multigenerational affordable communities in which all individuals can remain a vibrant part of their community through every stage of life?

Following a complete assessment of the proposals received, Fannie Mae will award contracts for services, like research, development, and testing, in order to support and accelerate the advancement of the most promising solutions. 

Take the first step

The Challenge is a big and bold effort that I believe reflects the size and nature of the problem. The critical lack of affordable housing is not solvable from a single dimension nor by a single sector; that is why we are casting a wide net and seeking ideas from diverse audiences. We believe that we can have an impact. But we can’t do it alone. Join us to contribute to the vision of a healthier future – submit your idea today. Help us change the paradigm from treating to preventing illness by supporting greater access to safe, healthy affordable housing in sustainable communities across the country.

To learn more about The Challenge, including eligibility requirements, or to submit an idea, please visit www.fanniemae.com/thechallenge

Maria Evans
Vice President for Sustainable Communities

October 18, 2018