6/22/2023 in News & Media, NFHA News, Press Releases

Winning Team Announced at NFHA’s Inaugural Tech Equity Hackathon

Date: June 22, 2023
Contact: Izzy Woodruff, iwoodruff@nationalfairhousing.org  

Winning Team Announced at NFHA’s Inaugural Tech Equity Hackathon

Team members worked together to identify, quantify, and mitigate bias in an automated valuation model

From Left to Right: Yoshi M. Bird, Jonathan Lawless of Bilt Rewards (award presenter), Qilin Tong, and Nicholas Bowen

Washington, D.C. — The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA)’s Tech Equity Team hosted its first-ever Tech Equity Hackathon from Friday, June 16, to Sunday, June 18, 2023, in Washington, D.C. The winning team — comprised of Yoshi M. Bird, Qilin Tong, and Nicholas Bowen — was chosen by a panel of expert judges and received a $25,000 reward.

During the three-day event, several teams of students, recent college graduates, and others competed to develop innovative solutions to remove bias from the housing and lending sectors. Specifically, teams were tasked with:

  1. Testing an automated valuation model (AVM) for racial bias in model outcomes;
  2. Quantifying the size of the bias, if any;
  3. Identifying model features that drive the bias;
  4. Describing potential societal harms that can result from this bias; and
  5. Providing policy recommendations to address the AVM bias while retaining the performance of the AVM used to estimate a home’s value.

“Ultimately, through its Tech Equity program and events like the Hackathon, NFHA wants to help democratize the knowledge of responsible technology in housing so that we can eliminate bias in algorithmic systems being used in housing and financial services, increase transparency and explainability for AI tools, outline ethical standards for responsible tech, advance effective policies for regulating AI tools, and increase diversity and inclusion in the tech field,” said Dr. Michael Akinwumi, NFHA’s Chief Tech Equity Officer. “We are so grateful to everyone who participated in this important event — NFHA staff, the hackers, the speakers, the judges, and our sponsors — and we look forward to hosting other similar events in the future to further advance NFHA’s critical mission.”

The Hackathon was part of NFHA’s year-long campaign to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. In addition to the top prize of $25,000, the second-place team received $15,000. Members of the remaining teams received a participatory prize of $100 each, and the event featured interactive workshops about anti-discrimination laws and their applications to machine learning, as well as networking opportunities with top industry professionals.

Click here to learn more about NFHA’s Tech Equity Initiative and here for a complete list of NFHA’s other 55th anniversary events.


The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) is the country’s only national civil rights organization dedicated solely to eliminating all forms of housing and lending discrimination and ensuring equal opportunities for all people. As the trade association for over 170 fair housing and justice-centered organizations and individuals throughout the U.S. and its territories, NFHA works to dismantle longstanding barriers to equity and build diverse, inclusive, well-resourced communities.