Back to Blog

Housing Venture Lab Areas of Interest 2024

  • January 17, 2024
  • 4 min

Each year The Housing Venture Lab interviews our partners, community leaders, and investors to understand where they think innovation in the housing sector can best increase affordability, equity, and sustainability. These conversations, along with the Terner Center’s research and policy work, inform our areas of interest for each year’s Housing Venture Lab cohort, which are detailed below.

Note: We’re excited about these areas, but they won’t limit the makeup of our final cohort. In past years, many amazing ventures the Housing Venture Lab supported were a surprise - they did not align neatly with our areas of interest, but they blew us away. The Kelsey, Esusu, and Blackstar Stability are just a few examples. 

Alleviating barriers to developing more, faster, and cheaper housing. 

Building new housing is slow and expensive due to a multitude of factors including lengthy government approval processes, high costs of construction, and scarcity of low-cost financing. We remain interested in innovations that help housing get built more quickly—such as automations for entitling & permitting—and that help more developments “pencil”—such as money-saving construction technologies and creative financing strategies.

Protecting marginalized populations in the housing market while expanding traditional definitions of equity in housing.

The housing market continues to be plagued by persistent inequities that systematically disadvantage certain groups, including Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, and low-income households. We are looking for solutions in the realm of technology, data, and design that address and reverse these inequities while centering communities that have historically been overlooked. Such solutions might include more equitable methods for screening renters, underwriting mortgages, or appraising home values. They might also look like design innovations that create more inclusive, healing spaces for people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, or people dealing with trauma.

Developing tools that empower and improve outcomes for low-income renter households. 

Low-income renters face myriad challenges in finding, securing, and maintaining high-quality affordable housing. We are interested in innovative applications of technology that equip renters to more effectively navigate such challenges. These might include tools that help renters more easily identify housing opportunities, hold their landlords accountable to affordability and/or quality standards, or better access vouchers and other subsidy sources available to them.

Using housing as a way to break cycles of poverty and build wealth among historically marginalized groups. 

Stable housing—including but not limited to homeownership—is foundational to achieving economic prosperity and long-term wealth building at the household level, a linkage which has contributed to the dramatic deficits in income and wealth for BIPOC households and others who have faced systemic housing discrimination. We are looking for ventures that help low-income households access high-opportunity neighborhoods through vouchers or other supports, or models that make homeownership more accessible and equitable through innovations like small-dollar mortgages, new forms of down payment assistance, or improving financing terms and availability for low-income households.

Accelerating progress towards our climate goals through innovations in housing sustainability. 

The built environment accounts for 42% of global greenhouse gas emissions. To truly reach our climate goals, we need innovations that go beyond retrofitting existing buildings and push us towards more sustainable forms of housing and living. We are interested in ventures that are integrating housing with more sustainable transit modes, building for climate resiliency and disaster recovery, and achieving breakthroughs to enable denser greenfield development that is less carbon intensive. 

San Diego expansion

We are working with the San Diego Regional Policy Innovation Council to pilot a more streamlined entry point for ventures expanding in the region to find funding, land, and partnerships. If this is of interest to you, please declare this in the relevant portion of the application. Having an interest in San Diego expansion is not required for our 2024 program and will have no bearing on your application during the selection process.