Courtesy ICON

Ivory Innovations is recognizing ambitious, feasible, and scalable solutions in construction and design, finance, and public policy and regulatory reform to address the nation’s affordability crisis with its third annual Ivory Prize.

The Top 25 finalists for the Ivory Prize—selected from 160 nominations from 39 states—feature new approaches to address rising material and labor costs, efforts that have helped communities and individuals respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and solutions to affordability that seek to address historic inequalities related to race and housing.

“This year has shown how interlinked housing, and specifically affordability, is to our social and economic fabric,” said Abby Ivory, director of Ivory Innovations and Strategic Projects at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business. “The 2021 class of our Top 25 are pioneering new approaches, breaking down historic barriers, and focusing on solutions that address multiple and complex problems through the lens of housing affordability.”

The Top 25 finalists for the 2021 Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability were chosen by the Ivory Prize’s advisory board. The Top 10 finalists will be released in April, with the final winners announced in May. More than $200,000 in prize money will be distributed between at least three winners. In addition to the financial support, Ivory Innovations’ network includes interns, capital partners, and strategic planning.

Ivory Innovations, which is an applied academic institution and operating foundation dedicated to catalyzing innovations in housing affordability, also is partnering with the Housing Lab at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California at Berkeley to send a top entrant through its accelerator.

The finalists include:

Construction and Design

  • Autovol, Nampa, Idaho: Autovol is tackling affordable housing by using innovative technology to automate the modular construction process, cutting 40% of the traditional build time. The firm is led by CEO Rick Murdock and co-developed by leading affordable housing developer The Pacific Cos.
  • BamCore, Windsor, California: BamCore is a studless framing solution using timber bamboo to deliver customized, code-compliant wall systems that are redefining the low-rise built environment.
  • Blokable, Sacramento, California: Blokable’s comprehensive modular development model reduces the cost and time required to create and operate new multifamily housing.
  • Building Talent Foundation, Washington, D.C.: The Building Talent Foundation addresses the severe and persistent labor shortage across skilled trades by connecting trained talent with builders.
  • Community First! Village, Austin, Texas: Community First! Village is changing the model by which cities address chronic homelessness—shifting from a housing first approach to a community first approach.
  • ICON, Austin: ICON develops advanced construction technologies. Using proprietary 3D printing robotics, software, and advanced materials, ICON is shifting the paradigm of home building. In March 2020, the company completed a series of 400-square-foot, 3D-printed homes that will serve as new beginnings for six formerly homeless people as part of the Community First! Village.
  • Park Avenue Green // CG+A, New York City: Omni New York’s Park Avenue Green, designed by Curtis + Ginsberg Architects, is currently the largest passive house affordable housing development in the country, making the critical connection between sustainability, energy efficiency, and affordability.
  • Tiny Home Village Project, Albuquerque, New Mexico: The Tiny Home Village, which opened to residents in February, is a unique approach to addressing homelessness and racial equity, with a focus on supporting the local Native American community.
  • UNITY Homes, Walpole, New Hampshire: UNITY Homes combines state-of-the-art technology and machinery to build a panelized home that a client’s builder assembles at a very affordable price point.


  • Acts Housing, Milwaukee: Acts Housing supports families to purchase and rehabilitate distressed properties into stable homes through home buyer counseling, represents families in a transaction, and provides mortgage loans.
  • Deepblocks, Miami: Deepblocks utilizes technology to reshape development and entitlement decisions through a real-time analysis of financial and market data, in combination with local building regulations.
  • EarnUp, San Francisco: EarnUp is a financial technology platform that helps consumers better manage expenses, avoid expensive short-term lending, and provide savings options to prepare for homeownership.
  • Housing Impact Fund, Charlotte, North Carolina: The Housing Impact Fund is a social impact equity fund to preserve and create affordability for thousands of Charlotte residents earning between 30% and 80% of the area median income in neighborhoods of opportunity.
  • KeepHome, Boston: KeepHome is a free app designed to guide potential homeowners through the entire process of purchasing a home, with a focus on assisting those confronting structural and persistent racial barriers.
  • Nico, Los Angeles: Nico is a neighborhood investment company that makes it possible for local renters to participate as financial stakeholders in neighborhoods where housing values are increasing.
  • Rhove, Columbus, Ohio: Rhove partners with multifamily landlords to give renters the opportunity to build equity in the buildings in which they live.
  • Silvernest, Denver: A home-sharing platform, Silvernest provides empty nesters, baby boomers, and those with extra space with the opportunity to find a housemate and create additional income.

Public Policy and Regulatory Reform

  • Affordability Unlocked: City of Austin, Austin: Affordability Unlocked is a proactive incentive-based approach to make strides in the housing affordability space, with a goal of building around 60,000 units by 2027.
  • Accelerating ADUs: City of Pasadena, Pasadena, California: The Pasadena Second Unit ADU Program provides comprehensive assistance for financing, designing, permitting, and constructing a new accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in the City of Roses.
  • Casita Coalition, San Francisco: Casita Coalition is a statewide, multisector organization and leader in small housing that is helping to spark an ADU revolution—leading to 19,000 ADUs in the past three years with zero public subsidy.
  • CoUrbanize, Cambridge, Massachusetts: CoUrbanize is an online platform solution that connects developers and planners with their neighbors. With the COVID-19 pandemic, CoUrbanize has become a resource for community members to continue to engage in development processes while in-person public/community meetings are on hold.
  • Hello Landlord, Lehi, Utah: Hello Landlord helps tenants avoid eviction in a COVID-19 environment based on their responses to a series of questions. With the help of its free tool, tenants can write a letter that notifies a landlord that he or she is struggling financially and that the law may not allow an eviction.
  • Impact Justice/The Homecoming Project, Oakland, California: The Homecoming Project focuses on reducing recidivism by removing the single-most significant factor, housing. Formerly incarcerated people are able to integrate more easily into the community by quick placement into stable housing right out of prison.
  • University of Miami: Land Platform, Miami: The Miami Affordability Project is an interactive online map centered on the distribution of affordable housing and housing needs in the Greater Miami area. The interactive map has the potential to unlock public assets and vacant land as well as support improved livability, equity, and responsible growth accounting for the effects of climate change.
  • Telluride Foundation, Telluride, Colorado: The Telluride Foundation focuses on integrating donated land, prefabricated panelized home designs, and low-cost construction finance to support teachers and other essential members of the workforce, specifically in the Latinx population, in affording housing in rural communities.