Often, innovation begins with a conversation about an idea.
A brief conversation between Mark Holmgren, executive director of the Edmonton CDC, Leo Wong, founder of MacEwan University’s Round House, and Andrea Burkart, former executive director of End Poverty Edmonton occurred one evening at the Roundhouse. We talked about the possibilities that might be revealed if cross sector and cross industry stakeholders came together to explore potential innovations for reducing the costs of designing, building, financing/funding, and operating affordable housing.
A particular goal is to identify innovations that allow for the construction of affordable housing that have low end or below market rents and do require tenants to be dependent on subsidies.
Over the summer, funding was found to support this for this initiative and we are now working with partners to bring it to life over the next 12 months. Our intent is to design an innovation journey map that will result in groups continuing innovation work after the innovation lab.
he Affordable Housing Innovation (AHI) Lab intends to be a catalyst for continued exploration and collaboration, where new ideas are explored and prototyping can emerge and be scaled into action.
The AHI Lab will involve two events, called Design Jams (tentatively scheduled for Fall 2019 and Spring 2020). Each event will focus on a selected list of topics to be determined by the organizers. Participants in the Design Jams will include those who have professional experience in addressing challenges related to affordable housing, or lived experience in the community. Participants will also have the opportunity to join prototype teams who will continue to test ideas between Design Jams, to the point of showcasing and attempting to garner support to scale their ideas into action.
In partnership with Affordable Housing Fellows, prototype teams will have the support of researchers, practitioners, policymakers, planners and other influencers who will lead research activities. The Fellows will help compile existing knowledge as well as supply novel insights into key questions related to affordable housing. An example of a topic a Fellow may explore is to understand barriers to sustainable and affordable housing for individuals that are precariously housed.
We are in the process of hiring a coordinator, housed at the Round House.