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In Search of Affordability in Miami: SE Summer Fellow Bode Adunbarin (MBA 2023)

By: Bode Adunbarin 25 Jul 2022

The HBS Summer Fellows Program enables students to apply their classroom training as they explore career opportunities in roles or regions where compensation is generally lower than the traditional MBA level. This summer, we are connecting with some of our 61 Social Enterprise Summer Fellows, who are working around the world to develop skills and knowledge while having significant responsibility and high impact.

What are you working on this summer?

This summer, I’m working with Miami-Dade’s Public Housing and Community Development team (PHCD). This organization oversees more than 9,000 public housing units across the county, providing housing for low-income families, seniors, and persons with disabilities. PHCD provides financial help through the federal Section 8 program to more than 18,000 families and offers support services for the elderly community.  

I support PHCD’s project managers and the division director on all development, redevelopment, and conversion projects that the team administers. My days range from performing site visits and inspections for a seven-story elementary school and workforce housing construction site in Brickell, to preparing underwriting analysis or reviewing deal documents for the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development.

I am also creating a detailed process manual for the PHCD team to memorialize key learnings from past developments and to uncover process improvements that can potentially accelerate the time taken to bring new public housing units to life.

Why did you choose this internship for the summer?

Real Estate has not only been my professional industry of focus for more than five years, but it has also served as a vehicle through which I have begun to better understand severe economic disparities that define many communities in the United States.

Before HBS, my entire career experience was based in the private sector. I worked as a financial advisor for public and private real estate companies before subsequently working as a real estate investment professional analyzing a wide array of transactions that included market-rate acquisition or development projects for seniors. In these roles, I have been able to observe how much influence the private sector has on housing and affordability.

I was curious to learn how the public sector approached housing. I wanted to place myself in an organization whose business model centered entirely on housing affordability. I also wanted to spend my summer in an environment where I believed the crisis was most acute. An internship in Miami with the Public Housing and Community Development team was a perfect means to do so.

What are your goals for this summer?

One of my main priorities for this summer is to better understand how Miami-Dade County currently works with private sector developers to create affordable rental housing units, specifically housing projects oriented towards the senior community. As a staunch believer that tackling affordable housing requires both public and private sector investment, I’m keen to understand how private developers work cohesively with the Miami-Dade housing authority to build high quality affordable housing units while simultaneously satisfying their own economic objectives.

I also want to establish a strong professional network and build personal relationships with Miami-Dade County leaders who are at the forefront of solving one of the most challenging and critical issues that Miami faces. As someone who aspires to have autonomy over investment capital in the future, I hope that my experience and cultivated relationships will allow me to make informed investment decisions that support affordable housing development efforts for seniors.

How has your MBA skillset prepared you to be successful in this role? 

Through the FIELD Immersion program, HBS gave me the opportunity to hone my design-thinking and interviewing skills and apply them in real-world settings. In Technology and Operations Management (TOM), I learned how to translate and distill complex, multiphase operations to simple visuals. Both experiences have been directly applicable as I develop a comprehensive process guide for the project managers of PHCD and private organizations that the PHCD team partners with.

In addition to these practical skills, HBS has elevated my decision-making abilities. In every class, the HBS case-based style of learning naturally requires me to methodically navigate through an abundance of information, to listen attentively to my section mates who hold differing viewpoints, and to form and substantiate my own view on a nebulous business decision. These skills have been highly transferable to my summer position as I underwrite redevelopment projects and evaluate requests for proposals (RFPs) for PHCD.

How has the summer influenced your thinking on future involvement in social enterprise?

My summer experience interacting with thought-leaders at PHCD and getting the opportunity to listen to deeply personal stories of residents has allowed me to move “beyond the numbers” of investment analyses which typically precede a decision to develop. I have begun to envision the resident-driven impact I hope to have on the real estate sector as I advance in my investment career and make decisions to ensure that I stay on course to fulfilling my own personal aspirations.

A summer with PHCD has given me direct access and unvarnished exposure to what public and affordable housing development looks like. I have seen examples of how public-private partnerships can successfully function. With the knowledge base I’ve gained from hands-on experience, and the personal network I’m building, I can begin to strategically think about broader issues that most matter to me – namely, how to attract an even wider base of private real estate investors to build affordable housing units at scale.

How can someone learn more about your organization?

Website: https://www.miamidade.gov/global/housing/home.page