In May, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch is holding its 24th Annual Low Income Housing Challenge in California, an event bringing together universities on the West coast to introduce undergraduate and graduate students to the affordable housing industry.

This year’s program features eight teams and six schools, who compete to develop affordable housing proposals for possible future development. 

The Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Low-Income Housing Challenge is a team ‘business plan' competition whose goal is to inform, educate, and attract the next generation of affordable housing professionals.

"With a continued growing demand for affordable housing in the U.S., attracting and building future leaders in this industry is crucial. Through the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Low Income Housing Challenge, students are introduced to the affordable housing industry and have the opportunity to connect with leaders in the field," said Ari Beliak, vice president for Bank of America’s community development banking. "Throughout the 24-year history of this program, we are pleased to see the number of former participants who have become affordable housing leaders. It is exciting when proposals created during the Challenge become a reality and have a real-world impact on local communities."  


The teams in the challenge are from universities on the West Coast.

“The BoA Low Income Housing Challenge has always appealed to me because it brings together students with various disciplines and exposes them to the struggles of an affordable housing developer.  The students learn to balance between urban land use, community interests, financing, and architectural design,” said Dan Wu of Charities Housing. “The Challenge is also a great tool for the industry to foster future generation of ‘housers’ whether their interest lie with development, financing, management, or other related fields.  On a personal level, I love the interactions with the students.  It's fulfilling to see someone ‘gets it’ and learn I was part of their process.”

For 24 years, the bank has challenged undergraduate and graduate students to envision new and innovative models of housing for low-to-moderate income residents. The proposals are required to be forward-looking but also feasible in the current economic and fiscal climate.

A jury of affordable housing professionals with development, finance, planning, architecture, and government expertise judges each proposal.

Four finalists were just announced for this year’s competition:

  • University of Washington - Seattle, Washington
  • University of California, Berkeley  - Berkeley, CA
  • California Polytechnic State University (Caly Pol) - San Luis Obispo, CA
  • University of California (UCLA) – Los Angeles, CA

The final winner will be announced on May 14th.

For more information on this program, click here.