This year’s finalists in the Construction & Design category include solutions to the labor shortage as well as environmentally friendly building solutions focused on decreasing construction time. In the Finance category, finalists include organizations focused on construction financing, shared-equity models, and renter programs that support increased savings and equity. This year’s finalists in the Policy & Regulatory Reform category include organizations focused on addressing historically lengthy processes, such as accelerating permitting and connecting LMI individuals to housing opportunities.
Over the last five years, Ivory Innovations has recognized 14 Ivory Prize Winners across the country and awarded $890,000 in prize money. In addition to financial support, Ivory Innovations connects all of its Top 25 Finalists with leading practitioners, capital partners, student interns, and pro bono consulting or capacity-building services.
Finalists for the Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability are selected by the Ivory Innovations’ Advisory Board, which is composed of the top minds in housing across the U.S.
The 2023 Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability Finalists
Here are this year’s finalists (listed by category and alphabetical order):
Construction and Design
BotBuilt | Durham, North Carolina
BotBuilt is revolutionizing the building process and solving the labor crisis in construction through flexible, precise robotic systems, patented hardware, and cutting-edge software. BotBuilt uses the latest technology to implement advanced motion planning with computer vision to build a more sustainable future for construction, forever changing the way the world builds with automation.
Diamond Age | Phoenix, Arizona
Diamond Age’s mission is to get first-time homebuyers into their first home faster, using 3D printing and advanced industrial-scale robotics—AKA—building robots bigger than houses to build houses. Diamond Age is automating new home construction for the production housing industry—solving the massive labor shortage plaguing the home construction industry and bringing more entry level housing to market to balance demand. Diamond Age is currently building entry-level homes for the 9th largest homebuilder in the U.S.
Inherent L3C | Chicago, Illinois
Inherent L3C believes in the power of community reinvestment through the creation of trade careers, homeownership, and community-based businesses. From their community housing production facility delivering all-electric, solar-ready smart homes, to their work with public, private, and nonprofit organizations to prepare households for homeownership, and their suite of support services for a household’s first five years, Inherent L3C believes that by coming together, “we can bring the best of us to the most of us”.
Madelon | Denver, Colorado
Madelon simplifies infill housing development by streamlining and productizing the entire process. They seamlessly integrate each component, including pre-designed housing products that are compatible with industrialized housing manufacturers, into their online REDtech platform. This allows small local developers, non-profit institutions, and even community trusts to get into the driver’s seat and finally leverage new construction technology to identify and build more affordable housing supply at scale.
Plantd | Durham, North Carolina
Plantd makes durable carbon-negative building materials for homebuilders using fast-growing perennial grass instead of trees. To fulfill their mission to rapidly remove atmospheric carbon dioxide in the field and lock it away within the structures of new homes, they are establishing a new agricultural supply chain and building novel manufacturing technology that lowers costs, reduces carbon emissions, and produces superior-performing materials.
Timber HP | Madison, Maine
TimberHP manufactures loose fill, batt, and continuous board insulation from waste wood chips leftover from the production of lumber, boards, and sheathing; they also use woody debris removed from forests to improve tree growth and can even use wood scraps that pile up on construction sites. Most insulations are made from petroleum, such as foam, or require large energy inputs, like in the case of mineral wool. TimberHP’s cost-competitive, high-performance products land at the job site carbon negative and do not suffer from large price fluctuations tied to the use of fossil fuels.
Tough Leaf | New York, New York
Tough Leaf is a B2B SAAS platform focused on empowering certified Minority, Women, and Veteran owned businesses (Diverse Firms) to grow by connecting them with opportunities and capacity-building partners. Tough Leaf does this by seamlessly connecting General Contractors & Developers with Diverse Firms to meet and exceed their compliance requirements on projects.
Vantem | Greensboro, North Carolina
Vantem builds affordable, energy-efficient, climate-resilient homes at scale. Vantem reduces the cost of delivering quality homes by leveraging an innovative structural panel technology to factory-craft modular structures, including full Net Zero homes.
Arx | Miami Beach, Florida
Arx is an AI-driven real estate analytics platform that automatically underwrites the future potential of millions of properties in advance, enabling developers, investors, and agents to source and evaluate optimal investment & development opportunities in seconds. Arx is on a mission to catalyze the development of an equitably built world by empowering professionals to instantly understand the regulatory and market forces impacting a region, drastically improving their ability to deliver housing where needed most.
Bilt Rewards | New York, New York
Bilt Rewards is the first-of-its-kind rewards and payments program for the $600 billion/year rental market, enabling the country’s 109 million+ renters to build their credit and earn points back on rent with no fees for them or their landlord. Bilt is the only program that helps renters accumulate general savings and build their credit score while renting, while also enabling them to use points earned on rent and other everyday expenses towards a downpayment on a home.
CoFi | Lindon, Utah
CoFi is a fintech startup that has developed a fully vertical construction finance platform to address slow payments, complex lending, and risk of default in construction. The construction business has one of the highest project failure rates of any industry. CoFi streamlines this process, decreasing failure rates and helping project leads spend more time on their projects and less time on the financials. CoFi is piloting a new modular construction financing program with Manufactured, an end-to-end inventory manufacturing & finance solution.
Dearfield Fund for Black Wealth | Denver, Colorado
Launched by Gary Community Ventures, in partnership with Denver’s Black community, The Dearfield Fund for Black Wealth provides up to $40,000 in down-payment assistance to first-time Black and African American homebuyers to help build generational wealth. The Dearfield Fund for Black Wealth aims to close the racial wealth gap and accelerate Black homeownership by generating an average of $100K in net worth for 500-600 Black families, leading to $50-$75M in wealth creation for the Black community in Denver, CO. The fund seeks to build a community of practice and replication model to assist other cities in deploying this innovative fund model in their markets.
Frolic Community | Seattle, Washington
Frolic is paving the way for thousands of new, multi-family housing cooperatives to be built on lots with single-family homes in cities across the U.S. Their homes require down payments of $10-$30k, creating opportunities for low-wealth and BIPOC families that have generationally rented to enter into homeownership.
RenoFi | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
RenoFi.com is the first one-stop-shop marketplace for financing a home renovation. Homeowners see on average an 11x increase in borrowing power with RenoFi-powered loans.
Roots Investment Community | Atlanta, Georgia
Roots is the only privately held Real Estate Investment portfolio that allows its residents to build wealth by allowing them to “Own While You Rent”TM. Residents can invest their rental deposit directly into the Roots Fund and earn rental rebates for under the “Live in it Like you Own” it program that are invested in their fund account as well. The Residents are invested alongside accredited investors in a REIT that includes the very homes in which renters live. Roots invites Residents who pay the rent to build wealth along with all the other investors.
Trust Neighborhoods | Kansas City, Missouri
Trust Neighborhoods is a Kansas City-based nonprofit creating community-controlled real estate where gentrification threatens displacement. Trust Neighborhoods has created a new, innovative approach to tackle affordable housing: the Mixed-Income Neighborhood Trust, or MINT, that owns and operates a portfolio of rental housing under community control to maintain permanent affordability. Four MINTs now operate in Boston, Fresno, KC, and Tulsa.
Public Policy and Regulatory Reform
Black Homeownership Collaborative | Washington D.C.
The Black Homeownership Collaborative is a multi-year initiative dedicated to significantly increasing Black homeownership. A coalition of more than 100 organizations and housing advocates, the “3by30” initiative seeks to create 3 million net new Black homeowners by 2030 through an ambitious plan of seven tangible, actionable, and scalable steps to help close the homeownership gap.
California Dream for All Shared Appreciation Loan Program | California, USA
The California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) uses financing programs that have helped more than 213,000 low- and moderate-income Californians achieve the dream of homeownership and created/preserved 73,000 affordable rental units. On the homeownership side, the Agency uses various down payment and closing cost assistance programs to assist first-time homebuyers. The California Dream for All Shared Appreciation Loan is one of those programs and its unique design reflects the State of California’s desire to assist underserved communities who have faced historical housing discrimination leading to disproportionately low homeownership numbers.
Housing Connector | Seattle, Washington
Housing Connector is a tech-for-good nonprofit that increases access to housing for individuals most in need. Through partnerships with housing providers and an exclusive Zillow-powered marketplace, Housing Connector streamlines and automates the housing search experience to ensure no unit sits vacant while there are families in need of a home.
Housing Navigator Massachusetts | Cambridge, Massachusetts
Housing Navigator Massachusetts connects people to places to call home, adding transparency and equity to the too-often burdensome process of finding an affordable home. They deliver user-centered technology and advocate for systems change working in partnership with the public sector, owners, renters, and human service providers throughout our state. Their first product—a free, 24/7 housing search tool—offers clear, reliable information for one of the most important decisions we all make: where to call home.”
National Zoning Atlas | Ithaca, New York
The National Zoning Atlas is a collaborative of researchers digitizing, demystifying, & democratizing about 30,000 U.S. zoning codes through a first-of-its-kind user-friendly online resource. The Atlas will illuminate zoning laws and unlock research that will reveal how zoning impacts housing availability and affordability, transportation systems, the environment, economic opportunity, educational opportunity, and our food supply.
Next Step | Louisville, Kentucky
Next Step is a nonprofit social enterprise that works to address the critical shortage of affordable housing using energy-efficient, factory-built homes. By bringing together housing developers and manufacturers, while supporting homebuyers with counseling and responsible mortgage financing, Next Step’s model creates a pathway to affordable homeownership that better meets the needs of our communities and our environment.
Outreach Grid | Irvine, California
Outreach Grid (OG) is a data platform that enables agencies across a region to collaborate and coordinate on homelessness information on one platform in one language. Over the past six years, OG has created innovative, integrated tools for frontline service workers to collect data at the point of work and for community leaders to visualize their system of care from first contact to housing in real-time. During the pandemic, OG implemented the first-of-its-kind shelter bed reservations to give shelter operators the tools to manage their shelter beds and upcoming reservations in real-time, saving communities thousands of hours in coordination time.
PermitFlow | San Jose, California
PermitFlow is the “TurboTax for construction permitting,” providing automation and workflow software that simplifies and accelerates the permitting process. PermitFlow’s technology reduces risk and cost associated with construction, creating new paths to build housing affordably.
The Kelsey | San Francisco, California
The Kelsey advances disability-forward housing solutions that open doors to homes and opportunities for everyone. Co-led by people with and without disabilities, The Kelsey co-develops affordable, accessible, inclusive housing and leads advocacy and field-building efforts to create market conditions so inclusive housing becomes the norm.
The 2023 Top 10 Ivory Prize Finalists will be announced in April, and the final Ivory Prize Winners will be announced in May. $300,000 in prize money will be distributed between at least three winners selected across the three award categories: construction and design, public policy and regulatory reform, and finance.
About Ivory Innovations:
Ivory Innovations is dedicated to catalyzing innovative solutions in housing affordability. Utilizing its network and resources, Ivory Innovations promotes the most compelling ideas in housing affordability, working across sectors and providing monetary awards with the Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability. Additionally, in partnership with the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, Ivory Innovations places students at the center of its efforts, through Hack-A-House—an annual entrepreneurial competition—as well as scholarships, a course on housing innovation, and internships that place students at the core of the Ivory Prize search. For more information about the Ivory Prize and Ivory Innovations, visit www.ivoryinnovations.org.