Tackling Affordable Housing Crisis: Boston College Kicks Off Corcoran Center Case Competition

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Neil McCullagh

BOSTON – Boston College’s Joseph E. Corcoran Center for Real Estate and Urban Action announced that it has kicked off its fourth annual Case Competition focusing on the affordable housing crisis.

This year’s competition centers around developing affordable housing in Madison, Wisconsin, and includes 31 teams from 14 colleges and universities across the country. In total, 116 students will compete for the competition’s $5,000 grand prize, $2,500 for second place, and $1,500 for third place.

The competition asks students to create a development plan for a mixed income affordable housing complex that allows for economic and social returns for the residents, community and the development team. The competition offers students who want to enter the real estate industry an accurate simulation of what it takes to create an affordable housing plan.

“The lack of affordable housing has always been an issue in American society and we are encouraged to see real estate developers, financial institutions and academia coming together to explore potential solutions,” said Neil McCullagh, Executive Director of the Corcoran Center. “The last three competitions have shown that young people understand the implications of ignoring this crisis, and are excited to tackle this issue.”

Boston College is grateful to be partnering with Capital One for the competition, with additional support from Citizens Bank and Red Stone Equity Partners.

“This competition allows college students to get a real-life window into the affordable housing industry,” said Desiree Francis, Head of Community Finance at Capital One. “The problems surrounding affordable housing will take years of focus, prioritization and leadership to alleviate, so it’s important to encourage and develop talent within the next generation.”

In a video message to this year’s participating teams, Matthew Watcher, Director of the Department of Planning, Community & Economic Development for the City of Madison, said that the key to any affordable housing plan is community engagement.

“A successful development in the City of Madison is one that truly engages with the community and I encourage the students to take that to heart as they go through this process,” Watcher said. “I look forward to seeing all the great projects the students do and hopefully, someday in the future, they will create a real development here in Madison.”

Participants from previous years say the competition is important to nurture the next generation of real estate leaders.

“The barriers to entry into the affordable housing industry are high, and those already in the industry have a significant advantage over young people looking to enter this field,” said Philip Giordano, a former Corcoran Center competition winner who now works as a commercial real estate analyst. “The competition allows students to showcase their knowledge and ability, as an attempt to lower that barrier.”

This year’s participants will attend workshops to ensure they have a solid foundation for creating their competition plans. The first round of judging will take place on April 4, after which four finalists will be announced. The remaining four teams will then present their final projects on April 12 and the winner will be announced that day. All information regarding the competition can be found on the Corcoran Center’s website.

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