All-Women’s Team from Penn State Wins Boston College’s Corcoran Center Case Competition for Best Affordable Housing Plan


BOSTON – For the first time, Boston College’s Joseph E. Corcoran Center for Real Estate and Urban Action has named an all-women team from Penn State as the winner of its fourth annual affordable housing case competition.

The competition brought together 31 teams from 14 colleges and universities across the country, who created plans to redevelop a 3.5-acre parcel of land in Madison, Wisconsin.

The team from Penn State–consisting of Emma Shaw, Alycia Fournier, Lauren Knopf and Hope Urbanovsky–won the grand prize of $5,000 for their redevelopment plan, which included 89 housing units and an on-site service coordinator to assist residents with personal development.

“I wish I had known about this industry as a college student,” said Desiree Francis, Head of Community Finance at Capital One, the lead sponsor of the competition with support from Citizens Bank and Red Stone Equity Partners. “It’s not every day that you get to see how the fruits of your labor can impact the life of someone else, so congratulations to you all for a job well done.”

The second place prize of $2,500 went to Boston College, while the third place prize of $1,500 went to a team from Indiana University. Competing teams were given the opportunity to hear from professionals in the industry before submitting their final housing plans. Final presentations were heard yesterday from the teams.

“Our annual case competition exposes students to the world of affordable housing, allowing them the opportunity to create both economic and social value within a community,” said Taylor Perkins, Associate Director of the Corcoran Center and leader of the case competition. “Despite the immense obstacles faced by students over the last few years, these teams chose to spend a significant amount of time on something bigger than themselves and it’s clear the winning team is made up of future leaders. That the winning team was made up entirely of women also points to exciting changes ahead in an industry that has historically been male dominated.”

The affordable housing crisis has impacted millions across the country. Housing prices continue to rise while the number of active home listings dropped 60% in 2021 compared to the previous year, according to the Pew Research Center.

The Penn State team will now have the opportunity to present their plan in the coming weeks to Matthew Wachter, Director of the Department of Planning, Community & Economic Development for the City of Madison. A recording of the final team presentations may be viewed on the Corcoran Center’s website.