Student Challenge for Affordable Housing

Ratan Varghese - 2B Electrical
Posted on: September 23, 2017

Are you dreaming up a better basement when you’re in the shower, or a better shower when you’re in the basement? Have you cracked the code of the rental business, and have a new business model in mind to make housing more accessible and affordable for everyone? Oh, and want the chance to win 10,000 dollars? Well today is your lucky day, the next few months will be your lucky winter! You, see the Student Challenge for Affordable Housing is underway, and you can join!

The aim is to find ideas for building techniques and financing models to reduce the costs and risks involved in rental housing. You can work on your own, or in a team of up to five students. If you work in a team, you’ll need to designate a leader. Faculty and teachers cannot be active members of a team, but can play an advisory role. You can team up with people from other schools in Canada, if you want. The challenge website also notes that “An entire class or more may be involved in a single submission, but the official team is limited to 5 members.”

Ideas will be judged on many criteria, including innovation, financial viability, energy efficiency, replicability and accessible features. The project concept must, hypothetically, include a minimum of 5 rental units that remain “affordable” for at least 10 years. Site-specific proposals are possible, though you will need to keep in mind distance from public transit in that case. If you are working on such an idea in a studio or in class, that might still be eligible for the challenge. There is no entry or submission fee, but the prize for a winning idea is 10,000 dollars. Winners might also receive funding if they want to be actively involved in turning their ideas into reality.

Registration opened back on September 19 at, so why wait? You can offer your submissions starting on 31 October 2017. The absolute final non-negotiable immobile ultimate deadline is 11:59 Eastern Standard Time on 30 April 2018. The organizers make it clear on their website that there are absolutely no exceptions to the deadline. The judging will occur in June 2018, and on the 29th of that month they’ll contact the winners.

The organizers in question are The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). They are a government-owned organization that looks for ways to improve housing and house-seeking for communities across Canada. They were founded in the 1940s to house World War veterans, and in the decades since then have also worked to improve housing in rural areas, in Aboriginal communities, and for people with low incomes. Now they’re giving you, as well as all other college and university students in Canada, a chance to improve the state of affordable rent across the nation.

Go to for rules, regulations, detailed eligibility criteria and other information. Check back regularly, as the FAQs section will be updated once CMHC actually finds out which questions are asked frequently. You can also send enquiries to Note the Rules and Regulations > Evaluation Criteria section. It is much more detailed than most of the other criteria lists for this challenge.

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