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All questions must be submitted to IAH@huduser.gov. Questions and answers will be posted to this page in a timely manner.

Phase I Q&A:

Updated 01.19.23

Q: Our team is preparing our submission for the IAH competition and noted that the competition guidelines PDF has the deadline as 1/23/23, but the website lists the submission deadline as 1/25/23 - would you please confirm the Phase I submission date?

A: The due date is January 25, 2023, no later than noon Eastern time.

Q: I'm reaching out with a clarifying question on the Pro Forma submission in the template on the Sources & Uses page there is a section on Reserves that reads "RESERVES (see CAHFA Policies)." I am confused about what the acronym CAHFA refers to, and could you provide some clarity on what policies I should be looking at for determining appropriate reserve estimates?

A: The reference to CAHFA is an error. It refers to the California Housing Finance Agency. It should instead reference the Illinois Housing Development Authority policies.

Q: Upon reading the competition brief again, it appears the site is only supposed to have affordable housing. Is this an accurate interpretation, or are some market rate units allowed?

A: Your team can propose the development of mixed-used buildings, just be sure to justify why you are proposing them and include them in your financing, etc.

Q: Regarding the pro forma, we're at a bit of a loss when it comes to figuring out the hard construction costs of our building. Our group doesn't have experience with this, and we're not sure how to go about finding out how much our project will cost to build. What resources would you recommend we look into in order to finish our pro forma?

A: It is suggested that your team review some of the videos of previous IAH competitions as well as the recorded financing master class from last year (still relevant this year) and/or find someone from another discipline to provide assistance.

Q: My team has a question about the zoning on-site and financing. Part of our design hinges on the assumption that we would be able to get a zone change from the City of Chicago approved. In my studies thus far, we haven’t accounted for the extra time and cost of a zoning change in our financing strategy. Is it okay to assume a zone change would be approved in a timely manner and therefore, we would not have to account for the cost in our pro forma?

A: Your team should make an evaluation of the circumstances and decide if it’s best to assume a zone change would be approved in a timely manner or to build the extra time and cost into the pro forma. Make sure you justify the decision within your narrative. If you assume the zone change will be approved in a timely manner, be sure to include that assumption within your narrative as well.

Q: Is it possible for me to participate in next year's HUD student competition as a first year Economics PhD student?

A: Yes, you can participate in next year's HUD student competition as a first year Economics PhD student. As long as you are enrolled in a graduate program, you are eligible to compete.

Q: Is an arbor report available for the trees onsite? Additionally, is a DWG (or other file type) we could use as a base file? Or is the PDF survey file the only one available?

A: All documents pertaining to the site provided by the Chicago Housing Authority are on the IAH website under “2023 Competition Information.” An arbor report and DWG file are not available.

Q: One of my team members is taking a leave of absence for the spring 2023 semester. Does that disqualify them from participating?

A: All team members must be enrolled in a graduate program at the time that Phase I projects are submitted (January 25, 2023), so if your team member is not enrolled in the spring 2023 semester, (s)he is not eligible to participate.

Q: I have a question about the zoning of the project. In the feasibility study, there are several massing options however, options A-F show that the height of the building is above 70' which is the building height limit for the B3-5 zoning code. I'm not understanding why these masses are shown above 70' when that is what height limit is given by code. Could you explain this manner further please?

A: In the feasibility study they ultimately propose a Planned Development, which would allow for up zoning, as opposed to building by-right. This is why there are different heights shown.

Q: In the feasibility study, it mentions 100+ one-to-two-bedroom units, however, it does show some three bedroom units in some of the example layouts with the massings. Should we stick primarily to designing the building with one-to-two-bedroom units only, or should there be three- and four-bedroom units in our plans as well? I was under the impression that this project would be serving families too.

A: Teams should use what is provided by the CHA as a guideline, but you are welcome to create units with three- and four-bedrooms. However, you should explain your reasoning and account for any additional funding for those units in your pro forma.

Updated 11.14.22

Q: Will a financial master class be offered again this year like it was for the 2022 competition?

A: No, a financial master class will not be held for the 2023 competition cycle, but the 2022 class is still available and applicable to this year’s competition. You can access the replay of the master class here.

Q: I registered my intent to participate in this year’s IAH competition. Someone who is considering joining my team is currently enrolled in a graduate program, but they will be graduating this December. Are they eligible to participate or do team members need to be enrolled during the submission phase?

A: Team members must be enrolled in a graduate program at the time of Phase I submission, so the student graduating in December isn’t eligible. You can find potential team members by using HUD’s Team Finder Forum.

Q: Is there a minimum threshold of the level of specificity that needs to be included in the design materials (site plan, floor plan, section & building massing) or a sample of past Phase I submissions we can use to reference?

A: Please provide enough detail to allow jurors to understand your plan and design. We don’t provide samples of previous Phase I submissions.

Q: Are you able to share the total number of teams that are competing this year?

A: No, we don’t share that information during Phase I.

Q: Is there an Excel version of the community data snapshot available for us to work with?

A: No, we have provided all of the information and documents that The Chicago Housing Authority provided to us.

Q: Are we allowed to contact The City of Chicago's Planning and Development Department to ask about the entitlements process?

A: Yes, you may reach out to The City of Chicago's Planning and Development department. As long as you don’t contact anyone at The Chicago Housing Authority you are within the guidelines.

Q: I am getting a dual degree in Architecture and Business. Would I be able to qualify as a team member towards either discipline?

A: Yes, you could use either discipline to qualify as a team member.

Q: Is there a requirement as to which three programs/majors are represented on the team? (e.g., business, architecture, and urban planning)?

A: The only requirement is that at least one team member must be from an architectural or design-related program and at least one must be from a non-architectural program.

Q: Can the faculty advisor be an adjunct professor, or do they have to be a full-time professor?

A: An adjunct professor is an acceptable faculty advisor.

Q: Can a student be a part of two teams?

A: No, students can only participate on one team.

Q: Phase 1 submission is a 3-page narrative, site plan, and a proforma? We wouldn't have to do anything else unless we were selected for Phase 2?

A: Correct, four teams will be selected to advance to Phase 2, all other teams will not need to do anything else past Phase 1.

Q: Is there a limit to the number of teams from one academic institution?

A: Up to 5 teams can apply from each school (first come first served based on date of registration). Please keep in mind that multiple Phase I submissions do not guarantee being selected for Phase II. The final four teams for Phase II are selected by a panel of impartial jurors in a blind review.

Q: I am interested in participating in the competition this year, but my university does not have an architecture or design program. Is there a way I can still meet the cross-disciplinary team requirements? Can I work with students from other universities that have an architecture program?

A: Yes, we encourage you to work with graduate students from other universities to fill the multidisciplinary requirement. You can find potential team members by using the Team Finder Forum on the competition website.

Q: Will teams from different universities that choose to form a combined team still be held to the maximum number and configuration of students as the rest of the teams?

A: Yes, all teams participating must meet the competition’s eligibility requirements regardless of their university affiliation.

Q: Given the multidisciplinary nature of the competition, can a team have more than one Faculty Advisor?

A: Teams can only have one faculty advisor on record when they register with HUD. The advisor on record (along with the team members) will receive communications from HUD about the competition. The number of faculty that can work with a team is up to the discretion of the university or college.

Q: Is there any prize money for winning teams?

A: The winning team receives $20,000; the runner-up team receives $10,000; the two remaining finalist teams each receive $5,000.

Q: Is it possible to join the competition as an international graduate student if all other team members are U.S. citizens?

A: Yes, as long as at least three members of your team are U.S. citizens or permeant residents, you can participate as an international student.

Q: Where in the country will the homes be built? Will we be working with a large or small PHA?

A: The partnering PHA will be announced after registration closes. At that time, the PHA’s location, size and community information will be provided to teams.

Q: Can a multidisciplinary team of eligible graduate students be supported by a select multidisciplinary group of undergraduate students?

A: The team must be composited of graduate students only. The students that support the team are up to each school’s discretion, but only graduate students are eligible to participate and compete in the competition.

Q: Are there any travel subsidies?

A: Travel expenses for both the site visit and final event will be paid for two members of each finalist team (if held in-person). Additional team members are encouraged to attend; however, travel costs will not be covered and will need to be arranged independently.

Q: In the event a team member drops out are we able to replace that person without penalty?

A: During Phase I we will announce a final date to submit changes to teams. This includes additions and replacements of team members.

Q: Is the project topic geared around the HAs needs / requirements? Or is this a standalone project?

A: Multi-disciplinary teams comprised of graduate students in architecture, planning and policy, finance and other areas will be asked to address social, economic, and environmental issues in responding to a specific housing problem developed by an actual public housing agency (PHA). The needs and requirements are defined by the PHA, HUD Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) works with the PHA to develop the necessary project briefing materials, a comprehensive problem statement; background information on the project; community information; and relevant existing design proposals. Each year the competition is different based on the needs and location of the PHA, therefore it is a stand-alone project.

Q: Are past competitions submissions public?

A: Past competition submissions are not public, but you can find case studies on previous winner and runner up submissions on the Past Competitions page of the IAH website.