$10 Million Fannie Mae Innovation Challenge Selects Five Proposals to Address Affordable Housing and Health

June 4, 2019
3 stacks of coins going left to right, getting taller, with a wooden house outline on the right.

Fannie Mae recently announced the selection of five innovative ideas to receive contract awards under the Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge: Healthy Affordable Housing. The Challenge is an open competition seeking innovative ideas that aim to bring affordability and stability to underserved areas and help ensure residents have access to healthy, quality affordable, safe places to call home.

“In underserved communities, affordable housing and health outcomes of residents are inextricably linked. Research shows that poor quality housing can have a direct, negative impact on a person’s health,” said Maria Evans, Vice President, Sustainable Communities Partnership and Innovation, Fannie Mae. “The five ideas we have chosen to pursue have the potential to reimagine housing as a prescription for a healthy life. We look forward to supporting these innovative solutions and working with all of the contract awardees.”

Contract awardees and their innovative ideas are:

  • Virtual Home Visits to Reduce Childhood Asthma: In Washington, DC, the rates of childhood asthma-related hospital visits are 12 times greater in the lowest income areas than in affluent areas. Home visits are time-consuming for already overburdened healthcare providers, and many patients are hesitant to allow health professionals to enter their homes. Children’s National Health System will lead a program that enables residents and their medical providers to use smartphones to conduct virtual home visits that will assess conditions in the home that could trigger asthma-related illnesses and then connect the resident to resources to remediate those conditions. This project will promote resident health and well-being, while creating a healthier home.
  • Trauma-Informed Tiny Homes Community to Prevent Chronic Homelessness: Chronic homelessness is often a result of complex barriers that hinder the homeless from maintaining permanent housing. Montana based HRDC, will build a community of tiny homes. This model will apply principles of trauma-informed design, paired with supportive community services, to help formerly homeless adults feel comfortable and safe in their home and to address the stressors of homelessness and mental illness.
  • Urban Greenhouses to Provide Fresh Produce in Low-Income Communities: Urban agriculture has the potential to reconnect communities through nutritious food, meaningful jobs, and economic development. Vertical Harvestwill provide employment for underserved populations by growing food at commercial scale via vertical greenhouses in Chicago, IL. This project will explore and evaluate the integration of vertical farming within affordable housing to help build a scalable model for future housing developments, improve food security and nutrition, and promote holistic community wellness.
  • Telehealth Tools in Seniors’ Homes to Reduce Hospital Visits: Community Opportunity Fund will bring the Telehealth Intervention Program for Seniors to a large-scale affordable housing community in Newark, NJ. Using telehealth equipment installed in seniors’ homes, nurses will measure vital signs, ask health status questions, and intervene as necessary, enabling seniors to stay in their communities, preventing hospitalization and reducing costs.
  • Integrating Healthcare Sector Investments into Affordable Housing Finance: Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) will create an innovative capital funding structure to demonstrate that services that promote health and wellness can be effectively integrated into housing development efforts. The long-term goal is to incentivize hospitals, insurers, and other healthcare partners to invest in affordable housing as a way to improve health outcomes.

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