Affordable Housing Project Receives National Recognition

May 16, 2019

An innovative mixed-income housing development designed by an interdisciplinary team of CAPLA students was awarded 2nd Place/Honorable Mention in the 2019 Bank of America Merrill Lynch Low-Income Housing Challenge.

For over 25 years, the Low Income Housing Challenge has helped drive innovation and commitment among college students, and empowered new generations of affordable housing leaders.
Interdisciplinary team of CAPLA students
2019 Bank of America Merrill Lynch Low income Housing Challenge
Team of CAPLA students posing for group ohoto

The student team selected the proposed project⁠ site—the campus of a shuttered elementary school in Tucson’s Menlo Park neighborhood⁠—after speaking to area residents who experienced the loss of an important community and neighborhood hub with the school’s closing. In response, the team designed a housing development, Barrio West, that offers affordable housing units to low income residents at a variety of household income levels while also providing the neighborhood with community amenities: computers and workspaces, youth and community rooms, and event space. Live/work units included in the design increase opportunities for families who have skills to share while keeping local dollars in the community.

Students from the Master of Real Estate Development, Master of Science in Urban Planning, Master of Landscape Architecture, and Bachelor of Architecture programs formed the project team, which called itself “Ocotillo Development.” The students and faculty advisors met with a variety of stakeholders, including residents and city council staff to determine neighborhood needs and concerns, community service providers to coordinate available services with the project’s offerings, and The Southern Arizona Land Trust for guidance on development in Tucson as well as management of an affordable housing rental program.


Following the team’s final presentation in San Francisco, competition organizers recognized the design’s "community impact and environmental approach," praising the team for the way they listened and responded to community needs, the design’s impressive environmental considerations⁠—including the ways in which the design responded to heat and sustainability, storm water capture and treatment, and the mitigation of heat island effects⁠—and the creation of a Greenway that connected the project to the adjacent park and community.

This is the second year in a row that CAPLA team has advanced to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Low Income Challenge Final Competition in San Francisco.

Congrats to the outstanding students and faculty advisors!

Team of CAPLA students posing for group photo.


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