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WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 17, 2014 – (RealEstateRama) — Four student-led teams from across the country are among the finalists selected by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as part of a competition to encourage research and innovation in affordable housing design and planning. Among these finalists, one team of graduate students will be chosen for the best solution for redevelopment of the Revolutionary War-era DeBaun House in Bergen County, New Jersey into new permanent supportive housing for homeless veterans.

HUD’s new Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition seeks to encourage research and innovation in affordable housing, to raise practitioner and future practitioner capacity, and to foster cross-cutting team-work within the design and community development process.

Multi-disciplinary graduate student teams were asked to create innovative solutions involving design, planning, and finance. The four finalist teams are:
New York University– Team members Ryan Abramow, David Brown, Grant Palermo, Aaron Lenza, Adewale Sotubo designed 22 one-bedroom dwelling units spread over eleven two-story residential buildings. The team proposes that homeless veterans themselves will work together to rehab the DeBaun house. The team also mentioned developing a transportation program.
New York University and Columbia University– Team members Adina David, Jason Fleisig, Matt Meskill, Eric Blair-Joannou, Anna Lauren Oursler designed three buildings of eight one-bedroom units for a total of 24. The community vegetable garden would also be open to the surrounding neighborhood. The team’s submission also featured many green components.
University of Michigan– Team members Aja Bonner, Amina Kirk, Mitchell Herz, Oren Brandvain, Aly Andrews designed 24 one-bedroom units and proposed restoring the DeBaun House to serve as a space for community engagement and meetings. It will also house a woodworking shop where the residents can practice and refine their craft. They also discussed partnering with social service organizations to support the residents.
The Ohio State University– Team members Donald Wiggins, Jr., Shanell Davis, Megahn Kaple, Brad Hosfeld, Kevin Schildwaster submitted a proposal that included 16 one-bedroom units housed within four two-story buildings. The site will also feature an onsite gym and community walking paths. An onsite case worker will have an office in the DeBaun house.

HUD and the Housing Authority of Bergen County(HABC) challenged these design teams to consider the complex challenges associated with preserving a historic structure, producing affordable housing, and offering a supportive environment for the homeless. These student participants will need to consider design, community development, and financing elements in order to provide an all-encompassing plan and solution that would allow HABC to meet their goal. They will also need to understand the needs of the intended residents, the zoning restrictions, and leveraging opportunities.

The finalists will visit the project site on March 26th to tour the site and the DeBaun House and hear from representatives from the HABC. The competition will culminate on May 6 in a final presentation at HUD Headquarters in Washington, DC. A jury of five academics, practitioners, planners, and architects will hear the presentation of the student finalist teams. Following the jury’s decision, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan will announce the winners. The first place team will receive $10,000 and the runner up will receive $5,000.


HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.
HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the
need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build
inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business.
More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at and You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDGov, on facebook at, or sign up for news alerts on HUD’s Email List.

Brian Sullivan
(202) 708-0685