Two teams of UCLA Luskin master’s students competed in the 23rd Annual Bank of America Low-Income Housing Challenge. This was the first time in over four years that any team from UCLA has participated in the challenge and both teams advanced to the finals, which were held in San Francisco May 15.
The “MURP Associates” team won the competition with their project titled Xipe Totec (pronounced “si-pe toh-tec”), named after the Aztec God of the East, symbolizing regeneration and new life.
“Winning this competition represents a victory for planning and making change in your community,” said Urban Planning student Gustavo De Haro. “The most exciting takeaway from this competition was learning that in Boyle Heights it is possible to develop a project that is 100% affordable, does not displace residents, can create jobs, provide medical services and achieve financial feasibility. “Xipe Totec symbolizes a new direction for Boyle Heights – it offers this community a space where youth have the opportunity to rebuild and shape the future of their own neighborhood.”
Participants on the winning second-year MURP Associates team included Urban Planning students De Haro, Carlos Hernandez, Ara Kim, Randy Mai, Dennis Maravilla, Daisy Miguel and architecture student Brandon Harper. The team partnered with affordable housing developer Abode Communities to develop an inspiring proposal for a permanent supportive housing development in Boyle Heights called Xipe Totec. With an architectural style based on the pre-Columbian Azetc template Teotihuacán, the team proposed a mixed-use project with 58 units for low-income transitional age youth that have aged out of the foster care system or are homeless. The project also featured a social enterprise operated by Homeboy Industries, known for their business motto, “Nothing stops a bullet like a job.” Xipe Totec also proposed a full-service medical clinic on site, offering a full array of rehabilitative mental health services for residents.
Participants on first-year “Los Urbanistas” team included Allyson Ujimori, Ana Tapia, Connor Johnson, Daryl Chan, Laura Krawczyk, Marysol Smith and Precy Agtarap. The team partnered with affordable housing developer A Community of Friends to create a proposal for a permanent supportive housing development in Huntington Park called Randolph + State. The proposed development would have 64 units to house low-income families and Transitional Age Youth. The development would also feature a childcare facility, courtyard and roof-top garden for the residents.
Challenge sponsor Bank of America invited West Coast graduate and undergraduate schools to submit a proposal for a low-income housing development. Each team worked to identify a site and then create a proposal that included explanations of the development program, the market, design, services and financing. The teams submitted an initial proposal in April. After a review by a panel of judges, both UCLA Luskin teams advanced to the finals and created a full proposal. At the finals both teams presented their proposal to the panel of judges in San Francisco. The UCLA Luskin teams competed against five other teams from four schools including UC Berkeley, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UC Irvine, and the University of Washington. Both UCLA Luskin teams had guidance from faculty advisor Joan Ling.
Funding for the teams’ trips to attend the competition in San Francisco was provided by the UCLA Ziman Center.