MRED+D students take first place in Hack-a-House Homelessness category
On September 30th, 15 Abbey MRED+D students (almost half of the 36 student cohort) competed in Ivory Innovations’ Hack-A-House competition, with one team winning first place in their category.
As part of Ivory Innovations’ mission to catalyze innovative solutions in housing affordability, the non-profit holds an annual, live and online “hackathon”-style competition in which teams have 24 hours to complete and pitch their proposals for a scalable solution in one of the following themes: Homelessness, Environmental Challenges and Construction Technology, and Sustainable Renting and Affordable Homeownership.
Teams this year included the University of Utah, Howard University, Harvard GSD, Harvard Business School and Harvard Graduate School of Design, University of Denver, MIT, University of Sydney, Australia, and UC Berkeley.
This year, UC Berkeley had three teams compete in the Homelessness category of Hack-A-House: Mate, CalBuild, and Wurster Bears. The teams pitched “Foho Insurance,” “Utilizing Geothermal Energy within Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells,” and “Creating Value on Empty Federal and State-Owned Parcels,” respectively. UC Berkeley also had one team competing in the Sustainable Renting and Affordable Homeownership category, Team Red Finch, with their project: “WorkHappy HousingEasy (WOHO).”
All four teams were composed entirely of MRED+D students, with Mate taking first place in the Homelessness category!
Q&A with Mate:
Q: Who is on your team and what are their backgrounds?
“Go bears! Our team includes five UC Berkeley MRED+D students, including Phawin Siripong, Nita Athakaiwalvathi, Sirabhop Sakulkerewatana, Thanakorn Leelasathapornkul, and Chayanee Jantaradaval. Our team members come from a variety of disciplines, including architectural design, business, project management, hospitality, and real estate development.”
Q: Why did you join the competition?
“We see that Ivory Innovation concentrates on addressing the issue of homelessness, which we recognized as a serious and critical issue in our community. The city of Berkeley and the Bay Area in general has seen constant increases in homelessness which is why we are eager to help find the solution. Furthermore, we see this as a challenge to apply what we learned in class as well as our hands-on experience to address real-world problems in the real estate industry.”
Q: How did you come up with your proposal?
“We believe that in order to tackle ‘homelessness,’ we must create a model that is self-sustaining, rather than relying solely on government funds or charity contributions. And most crucially, to attack the problem at its origin rather than its effects, as we believe that prevention is better to cure.”
“So we proposed our affordable homelessness insurance that will protect a significant number of people, bridging the rent gaps while people are working on getting back on their feet before eviction. In reality, unexpected events happen all the time and any of us can be unhoused.”
“Similar to an insurance company, capital from the insurance fee will be invested in high-returned assets for future claims expenses. But most significantly, we will invest in affordable housing and jobs, solving homelessness at its roots.”
“Solving homelessness is important for this business model
because the less homeless means higher profit for the company which is why we believe that this model is perfect to addressing homelessness issue.”
Q: What was your winning recipe?
“We try to think outside the box which makes our proposal stand out. This is the benefit of the "+Design" part of the MRED+D program. During the program, besides the financial aspect of a project, we were always challenged to think differently and try to come up with fresh concepts and innovations.”
“Also, the hackathon-style competition is highly intense because you have to work within a limited time frame and we believe that collaboration is one of the keys to winning. Thanks to the MRED+D program, we were prepared to work with different people from different backgrounds. Additionally, they offer many useful resources. We utilized the Clifton Strength Analysis to understand more about our teammates and divide tasks according to their areas of expertise. Putting the right person on the right job is significantly important for our team.”
The teams and their associated members are listed below:
Mate: Nita Athakaiwalvathi, Sirabhop (Pepe) Sakulkerewatana, Phawin (Guy) Siripong, Thanakorn (Snook) Leelasathapornkun, Chayanee (Nim) Jantaradaval
CalBuild: Daniel Benavides, Jon Newman, Ilya Pinsky, and Monica Rangaves
Wurster Bears: Daksh Arora, Vish Bhaskar, Mahek Chheda
Red Finch: Ruchi Bindal, Chihiro Tanaka, Ramita (Mint) Yibmontasiri
The goal of the Abbey MRED+D program is to train the next generation of real estate development professionals to respond to the urban challenges of the 21st Century. Ivory Innovations’ Hack-A-House gives students the opportunity to create innovative solutions to current environmental and social issues in the real estate market. The Ivory Innovations Hack-A-House competition was a perfect moment for MRED+D students to test their knowledge and shine.