UT chosen as finalist in HUD competition

Anam Fazli

A team of UT graduate students have been chosen as finalists in a competition to redesign a housing development in California. 

The Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition, part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has selected four student teams from universities that include the University of Texas at Austin, University of Kansas, Harvard University and the University of Maryland at College Park. The purpose of the competition is for students to showcase their research and innovation in designing and planning affordable housing. It also seeks to promote teamwork within the design and community development process.

Brian Sullivan, supervisory public affairs specialist at HUD, said the teams are given the task to find the best solution in redeveloping the Monteria Village public housing development in Santa Barbara, California. Their plan must involve remodeling the current structure, or demolishing it, and creating a new construction. The finalists will visit the Santa Barbara project site on March 9 and hear from the local housing authority staff. 

“The students had to take design, community development, zoning restrictions and other aspects into consideration,” Sullivan said. “Most importantly the students had to meet the goal of offering safe and affordable housing to the families in the area.”

The UT team redesigned the housing development by adding 39 units for a total of 67 renovated homes, increasing housing opportunities for low-income residents. 

“Improving affordable housing is critical to HUD’s mission, which involves providing every American access to safe and stable housing. HUD has set up this competition to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes,” HUD secretary Julián Castro said in a statement.

“We are trying to tap the talents of top young people across the country,” Castro said. “We are finding new ways to tackle old challenges in the federal government.” 

Team member Tatum Lau, teaching assistant and student at the UT School of Architecture, said her team strives to improve the family dynamic. The team also includes Sarah Simpson, Brett Clark, Megan Recher and Brianna Garner Frey.

“Our vision was to evaluate and rethink the definition of ‘family’ in the context of family housing in the twenty first century,” Lau said. 

The jury will hold a panel at the HUD headquarters in Washington for the teams to showcase their final presentation. It will announce the winner with the best solution for the Monteria Village on April 19. The winning team will receive $20,000 and the runner-up team will receive $10,000, Sullivan said.

This article has been updated since its initial publication to correct how many members are on the competing team.