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Architecture students compete in housing affordability hackathon

At the Sept. 24 Hack-A-House competition, students had 24 hours to develop innovative and scalable housing solutions within competition categories that are given to them at the start of the event.

Two student teams from Washington State University are among the 34 teams from around the U.S. who are competing in Hack-A-House, a 24-hour “hackathon” style competition created to tackle the national affordable housing crisis.

At the Sept. 24  Hack-A-House competition, students had 24 hours to develop innovative and scalable housing solutions within competition categories that are given to them at the start of the event. $10,000 in prizes are awarded each year.

Nicole Liu, along with fellow architecture students Anissa Chak, Jhoana Avante, and Shanelle Brown, together formed a team and focused their efforts on COVID-19 and its impact on the affordable housing crisis.

“We thought that participating in this hackathon would be a great challenge to take on,” said Liu. “The issue of affordable housing is a broad topic and only having 24 hours to break it down and tackle it did not seem promising at first, but we still stayed confident and worked through it together.”

“We chose to tackle the impact of COVID-19 on housing inequality and instability and the issue of race and ethnicity in relation to housing affordability” said Brown. 

The team’s solution was using existing parking lots to rapidly address existing housing needs.

“We chose vacant lots as opposed to vacant buildings because we hope to keep the functionality of these parking lots, avoid demolition and gentrification, while also adding new construction to allow for single and multi-family housing,” said Avante. “Focusing on New York City and Seattle, we researched and analyzed city planning data. Then we located an underused garage and designed unit floor plans for it that would work for housing affordability.”

Working together around the clock for 24 hours presented several obstacles, but the students felt the experience was worthwhile.

“It was a challenge, but still a great experience and we gained a lot of new skills and knowledge about the topic of affordable housing throughout the process of tackling it. We are also proud to represent WSU competing against all these schools,” said Chak.

Liu, Chak, Avante and Brown’s team, titled “The Executives,” along with Team Go-Cycle, comprised of WSU graduate students Assani Kyanza, Jovannie Laforga, and Denise Tlatepa, are eagerly awaiting results of Hack-A-House’s People’s Choice Award Competition, which ends at 4pm on Saturday, Oct. 2. 

The public are encouraged to review and vote for their favorite entries at the competition website.

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