Newswise — Salt Lake City - Today, Ivory Innovations announced the winners of Hack-A-House 2020, a student-driven entrepreneurial competition resulting in innovations to reduce housing costs. The first ever all-virtual Hack-A-House competition included more than 170 participants from 20 universities from across the nation. A total of $10,000 was awarded, with winners in three categories taking home $3,000 each and $1,000 for the “People’s Choice” award.

“Hack-A-House is by design setup to engage, encourage and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, community builders and decisionmakers in identifying new and innovative solutions that make housing more affordable and attainable,” said Abby Ivory, director of Ivory Innovations an applied institute at the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. “The connection between housing, the pandemic and associated economic challenges made this already vexing issue that much more real to many participants. Our winners were able to demonstrate additive solutions for all three of these extremely difficult issues.” 

Participants were given 24 hours to identify solutions that would make housing accessible for a family making the area median income. Each team was asked to define an area, a problem, and a solution to make housing more accessible. Accessible is defined as paying no more than 30% of income towards housing.  Solutions were categorized into one of three categories: construction and design, finance, or public policy and regulatory reform. The winners, were selected from 51 teams and 39 final submissions by industry experts in the respective categories, include: 

  • Construction and Design: Team Kit Switch who proposed an innovative approach to addresses the affordable housing crisis and COVID-19 economic recovery of the City of San Francisco through the adaptive reuse of underutilized commercial real estate.
  • Finance: Team Hackahaas, which developed financing opportunities for Accessory Dwelling Units though condo conversions to increase affordable housing stock in expensive markets. 
  • Public Policy and Regulatory Reform: Team GSD proposes a policy framework for utilizing parking lots at major workforce centers left vacant due to COVID-19 and shift to teleworking for as sites for affordable manufactured housing. 

New this year was the “People’s Choice Award,” which allows participants and members of public to vote for their favorite solution to housing affordability. Voting is open until Saturday, October 10th at 5:00 pm MST and each team's project and video submissions are available online at

This year’s competition was supported by the a nationwide network of partner institutions committed to fostering innovative ideas to address the nation’s housing affordability challenges, including: the University of Texas at Austin; The Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkley; Washington State University; the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, and; Howard University. 

“I participated in Hack-A-House because California's housing crisis is one of the preeminent issues facing my generation, and I want to be at the forefront of addressing it,” said Joey Weinstein-Carnes, a MBA student at The Haas School of Business. “There's no silver bullet to housing affordability. My team explored a financial solution, but our idea relied on innovations in both policy (easing restrictive zoning) and construction (modular housing). In short, if we really want to fix this problem, it will require collective, coordinated effort from people across disciplines.” 

Hack-A-House in an associated program of Ivory Innovations, and sister program to the Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability, which awards more than $200,000 to winners that have developed ambitious, feasible, and scalable solutions to housing. The third annual Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability will begin accepting applications for the Ivory Prize on Thursday, October 8th, 2020. 

For more information about the Hack-A-House, the Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability and Ivory Innovations visit

About Ivory Innovations: Ivory Innovations is an applied academic institution at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business dedicated to catalyzing high impact innovations in housing affordability. Ivory Innovations seeks to promote the most compelling ideas in housing affordability by working across sectors, providing monetary awards for groundbreaking innovations and leveraging its network and resources.