The Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis, Atlanta, Dallas, and Minneapolis, in partnership with NeighborWorks® America, recently presented homeWORD, Inc., with the 2011 Innovation Award for exemplary practices in the community development field. HomeWORD, an affordable housing developer based in Missoula, Mont., was honored for its commitment to promoting green housing. The award specifically recognizes homeWORD's Solstice-Confluence project, a mixed-use development in Missoula that is slated for completion in October 2011. Solstice-Confluence is the first-ever project in Montana to combine Low Income Housing Tax Credits and New Markets Tax Credits. It will include 34 units of affordable housing and 16,000 square feet of commercial space that homeWORD will lease at below-market rates to other nonprofit organizations. The development's design was influenced by a neighborhood charrette (an intensive brainstorming discussion among architects, designers, and community members) and includes an array of environmentally friendly features, such as a water-conservation system that uses filtered waste water to irrigate the site's landscaping.
The Innovation Award was funded by NeighborWorks and formally presented at the May 2011 convening of the biennial Exploring Innovation conference, which was sponsored by the four Federal Reserve Banks listed above. The award consisted of two scholarships: one to the conference and one to the August 2011 NeighborWorks Training Institute in Atlanta. Initiated specifically for the 2011 Exploring Innovation conference, the award was open to all community development corporations located in the districts of the four partner Reserve Banks. Award applications were submitted via a web site dedicated to the 10,000 Hour Challenge, a St. Louis Fed project designed to encourage community development professionals across the country to collectively dedicate themselves to 10,000 hours of innovation. Staff from NeighborWorks and the partner Reserve Banks selected the recipient of the award.