FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I submit an idea and then put together a team if it is accepted?
An individual can submit a concept paper without a team, and the idea will receive full consideration. An individual entrant can also specify that they will assemble a full team if selected as one of the three finalists. However, a concept paper would be strongest if it were vetted by a complete team before it was submitted (February 28). The amount of cost savings is a critical factor, accounting for 30% of the scoring in the selection process compared to 15% for having a multidisciplinary team.
Is it permissible to include as “team members" representatives from local agencies such as Building Inspection Department or Housing/HRA Office?
Yes. Including information on local agency representatives that are willing to advise or participate in developing your concept could strengthen a proposal.
If the implementation of an idea would require institutional and other possible policy change, will teams be expected to achieve these changes on their own?
Potential institutional and policy change will not be solely dependent on a team’s actions. The winning ideas will garner attention, have deep analysis of what it would take to implement, and serve as a platform to help move the idea in partnership with sponsoring organizations.
The MN Challenge is a great concept for generating cost reduction ideas, but I am concerned about the time needed to form a team, fully vet the concept, and then take on the responsibility of implementation if my idea wins. Do you still want my cost reduction idea if I cannot commit the time to form a team and fully implement the idea if it wins?
A key purpose of the Phase I concept papers is to start an ongoing conversation about cost reduction strategies. We encourage everyone to submit ideas even if they have not formed a team or if they cannot commit the time to implement the idea. We want to start the conversation. With that said, the three-page concept papers still need to explain: (1) the cost reduction idea, (2) the potential cost savings, (3) the impact that the idea may have on housing quality and ability to serve low- and moderate-income residents, and (4) implementation issues. An idea without a team that is committed to implementing it will not score well in the competition evaluation, but the concept paper could be a catalyst for future conservations about implementation strategies beyond this competition.
Can you submit an idea on your own (without a team)?
An individual can submit an idea. You are not required to be on a team to submit an idea. However, ideas should be vetted from multiple professional perspectives, and proposals from multidisciplinary teams will score better during the evaluation of Phase I concept papers. In Phase II, an implementation plan that involves multiple professional perspectives will be expected.
Can you submit more than one idea? Can you be on more than one team?
Yes. You can submit more than one idea and be on more than one team. You can propose one big idea that incorporates multiple concepts, or you can submit smaller ideas individually. An individual team will not be asked to develop more than one idea in Phase II. If a team submits more than one concept paper that becomes one of the three finalists, the team and evaluation panel will negotiate which one will move forward. The team’s dropped idea(s) will be replaced with another idea to fill out the 3 finalist teams. If an individual is on two different teams that become finalists, that individual can serve on both teams or choose to serve on one team with the expectation that they will help the team that they left find a replacement.
Are we focusing on lowering the “first costs” or upfront cost exclusively?
The MN Challenge focuses on first costs, but not to the detriment of life-cycle costs. We’re interested in ideas that help realize life-cycle savings or allow for meaningful measurement and evaluation of life-cycle cost early in the process.
How will unit size relate to this effort?
The cost-reduction criterion that will be used to evaluate the Phase I concept papers will focus on per unit costs. However, ideas that reduce costs by limiting the number of larger multi-bedroom units that serve families will not be as competitive. Cost saving should be achievable across a broad range of project types, including those with large and small units. The Bending the Cost Curve report suggests several measurements of cost including; total development cost, cost per unit, cost per bedroom, cost per square foot, and cost per person housed. A strong concept to lower the cost of affordable housing would perform well in several of these metrics while maintaining the quality of space.
How will you measure success?
The key measures of success will be reduction of costs and likelihood of implementation.
What resources will be available to measure the impact of the implemented Idea?
Suggested metrics and the resources needed to measure the impact of the implemented concept may be part of a proposal in either Phase I and/or Phase II.
If the goal of the MN Challenge is to implement cost savings, why are there any criteria besides how much money is saved and the likelihood of implementation?
The evaluation of proposals will be heavily weighted towards the amount of cost savings achieved and the likelihood of implementation. Having the proposal vetted by a wide variety of professions involved in developing affordable housing is necessary to minimize the chance that unexpected factors will arise that prevent implementation or create unintended consequences. In addition, the cost savings should not be achieved at the expense of housing quality, durability, energy-efficiency, location desirability, and capacity to serve low- and moderate-income residents and vulnerable populations.
What Cost Savings were achieved by combining documents in the example project “MassDocs”?
Evaluating cost saving achieved by MassDocs in Massachusetts will be part of the next phase of the national Bending the Cost Curve research. This research will not be completed during the MN Challenge to Lower the Cost of Affordable Housing. Research regarding the cost averages and shares of total development costs for different project types is available in Appendix B of Minnesota Housing’s recent paper Development Cost Trends in Multifamily housing (linked).
How do “MassDocs” work with multiple sources of subordinate financing?
Funding sources participating in the MassDocs program are all in a joint second position proportionate to investment size. Subordinate funding sources not participating in the MassDoc program are most commonly in the third position.
What is the relationship between the MN Challenge and the re-engineering project for Minnesota Housing’s multifamily operations that was highlighted at the kickoff event?
The Bending the Cost Curve research shows that inefficient processes and timelines created by the funders of affordable housing can be cost drivers. To address these inefficiencies and other issues, Minnesota Housing is launching a re-engineering project for its multifamily operations. The MN Challenge is a great opportunity for teams to suggest ways for Minnesota Housing to create more efficient processes that will reduce the cost of developing affordable housing. Minnesota Housing will consider all ideas for implementation, even those that do advance beyond the concept papers in Phase I.
@ St. Thomas University's Second
Annual Minnesota Affordable Housing Conference