The Bank of America Affordable Housing Challenge

June 05, 2017


Last month a team of Real Estate, Urban Planning, and Architecture students competed in the annual Bank of America Merrill Lynch Affordable Housing Challenge in San Francisco.  These students were part of our Affordable Housing & Real Estate Development course lead by Faculty members Al Levine and Sarah Lewontin.  One of the team members, MSRE student Inge Falk Van Rooyen, shares her experience…

Our MSRE program produces a breadth of theoretical knowledge that encompasses a broad base of in depth aspects pertaining to commercial real estate practices. The opportunity to branch into either development, finance, or corporate real estate tracks is only a tip of the “ice-berg” with respect to the choices of how to structure our experience.

However, the ability to take part in competitions at regional as well as national levels, creates an experience that draws the students into the heart of local experienced as well as reputable leaders in the field, of very specific sub-markets.

The students who took part in the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Affordable housing challenge were put to the test to determine the detailed analysis for the upcoming Affordable housing development RFP, at the Roosevelt light rail link extension.

Affordable housing is a very hot topic for the City of Seattle.  The complex tax credit financing strategies are not easily understood in theory. This competition, created an unmatched opportunity within which to just dive into a project which really had to “pencil” out financially to carry the team from a regional to a national level within the competition.

The opportunity to review other students projects at a national level additionally opened our eyes to how different the City of Seattle is with regards to our progressive attitude towards supporting affordable housing within the tight city limits.  We live in a remarkable city with huge support for those that have helped to make Seattle a great place to live, through their presence and contributions, including artistic, supportive, and working class levels.

We had a tremendous night enjoying the San Francisco inner city dining and karyoke and learnt a lot more about all our classmates’ additional skills!

All of us are incredibly grateful of the incredible help received from our tutors and the tight connections with our experienced sponsors, Bellwether housing, and their peers in the field.

For any new students out there….step up and say “yes” to taking on this challenge. It is more than one can ever learn from a desk in the classroom. This felt like we just really had to get it “right!”