Nearly $2 million dedicated to entrepreneurs looking to tackle affordable housing crisis

Entrepreneurs pitch ideas to improve housing in Louisville, Southern Indiana

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Making ends meet is a top concern for many families.

That’s why Access Ventures put on the Reconstruct Challenge. Entrepreneurs from all over the country pitched ideas Wednesday to improve affordable housing in Louisville and Southern Indiana.​

Judges narrowed down 33 applicants to the 12 who pitched Wednesday night at the Speed Art Museum.

Only six walked away with $300,000 each to test out their programs that will hopefully help people find and keep affordable housing. ​

Louisville needs more than 30,000 units of affordable housing alone, but it’s not just about availability; it’s the cost of living. The city’s eviction rate is double the national average.​

​"Innovation and entrepreneurship can be applied to these social issues and have the potential to create real change for real people," Access Ventures spokeswoman Mallory Sanborn said.

The project challenged groups from all over to create solutions, whether they be through creative financing, better food access, or decreasing utility costs.

​"Basically, Turbo Tax solutions to make the systems that don’t work or that are broken work for all people," Sanborn said.

The six winning groups had ideas ranging from renting out rooms to streamlining SNAP and affordable housing processes. ​

​"We hit a big home run for our hometown," Kitty McKune said.

​McKune is part of New Directions out of Louisville, one of the four local groups competing. New Directions was the only local group to walk away with a big check. ​

"The American dream is not dead," McKune said. "We have to fight for it, but there are sources out here that are untapped."

​The idea for New Directions is helping employees of Bumper to Bumper and Facilities Management get into homeownership in the West and South ends.​ The employers will help with down payments on homes. It’s a win-win situation, McKune said. ​

"They want the employees to stay, so this is an incentive and a win for the employer if they're willing to invest in their employee​," McKune said.

​The money is for an 18-month test period.

If the ideas are working, the six groups will get additional funding to get started. ​

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