Sunday, May 22, 2022

Stakeholders in Affordable Housing Invited to Attend Innovative HousingX “Unconference” on May 24 and 25

Listen, learn and share your own solutions about the innovations transforming the affordable housing industry at the HousingForward Virginia “unconference” at the Newport News Marriott at City Center on May 24-25.

This flagship event from HousingForward Virginia, the Commonwealth’s most trusted resource for affordable housing data and research, is titled the HousingX 2022 “unconference” because it goes beyond a static gathering in addressing the lack of affordable housing options affecting millennials to retirees in areas from rural to urban.

“The industry needs innovation,” said Erica Sims, Executive Director for Strategy and Sustainability at HousingForward Virginia. “We want the conference to be a place where the housing doers in Virginia can see innovations from around the world, experience them in person, and hear from leaders around the world about what innovations they are seeing, and then try to adopt those back here at home.”

Real estate developers, general contractors, engineers, architects, government representatives, leaders in the fields of design and construction, and mortgage brokers and banking executives are encouraged to attend. Media who cover housing-related issues are also invited.

Register for the event at View the full schedule here.

The conference cohosted with the Virginia Center for Housing Research (VCHR) at Virginia Tech is formatted to be creative and unorthodox. “Our industry faces serious headwinds and needs innovative, applied solutions,” said Director Andrew P. McCoy. “Housing X provides an opportunity to learn directly from and network with leaders in affordable housing. VCHR is excited to partner with HousingForward Virginia and its sponsors on this important venue.”

A preview of what to expect:

  • Expert speakers who include Zachary Mannheimer, Founder and CEO of Alquist 3D and Atlas Community Studios, a team helping rural communities grow. Alquist 3D uses 3D printers to create homes; Curtis J. Moody, Founder of the largest African American architectural firm in the nation; Anna Mackay, Founder of Sister City, which emphasizes social, environmental and financial equity in development practices; Abhijeet Mohapatra, Co-Founder and CTO of Symbium, a freely accessible property information portal that enables users to view property information, permit history and other details for any California property; Carlos Valdes-Dapena, Founder of Corporate Collaboration Resources, which challenges conventional approaches to corporate team-building in favor of High Performance Collaboration; Peter Harrison, Director of Desegregate CT, a pro-homes movement to make Connecticut more equitable, prosperous and green; and Theo Henderson, Activist and Podcaster of “We the Unhoused.”
  • Four interactive workshops will focus on the “how” of attracting and retaining new residents; practical skills related to community assessment, design and financial modeling; facilitating remote collaboration; and promoting transit-oriented communities;
  • Attendees presenting their own ideas in a 20×20 format: 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide to explain their thinking;
  • An Experience Lab, an interactive and educational exhibit that showcases the future of housing featuring curated demonstrations of new technologies and ideas. The Lab goes beyond vendors standing at a table by offering true user experience with ongoing demos.

“This conference is much broader than what we normally think about with affordable housing,” Sims said. “This is really about thinking about the cost and the production of housing. How much can we produce? Where can we produce it? How can we produce it?

“Virginia Housing wants to cultivate that innovation housing culture in Virginia.”

A recent local example of solution-based innovation related to housing affordability is Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg selling the first 3D printed Habitat home in the nation to a Williamsburg family in December 2021. Alquist printed the exterior walls of the 1,200-square-foot home, reducing standard construction time by at least four weeks and saving up to 15% per square foot in building costs.

“That’s a government agency putting money into a very new untested technology,” Sims said. “That’s not normal. They are a great example in taking that risk. We want others in the housing world to do that.”

HousingForward Virginia is a nonprofit affordable housing policy organization that hosts HousingX every two years, convening the housing community to inspire innovation. The inaugural event in 2019 attracted more than 300.

Those attending the HousingX unconference may be eligible to receive continuing education credits. Several sessions are being submitted for accreditation by AIA Virginia and APA Virginia. For questions regarding accreditation or anything else related to the event, contact

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