The Wisconsin School of Business' Department of Real Estate and Urban Land Economics will launch a new graduate track for housing affordability and sustainability in the fall of 2024.
Although the University of Wisconsin-Madison is piloting the “affordable housing and sustainable development” track this fall with current business students, the 12-credit program will officially debut during the fall 2024 semester.
Christopher Timmins, the future track director and a real estate professor at UW-Madison, told The Daily Cardinal the affordable housing sector is becoming increasingly important due to rising costs.
“You see stories daily about housing affordability being a critical problem in almost every city in the country,” Timmins said.
Unaffordable student housing is a regularly discussed issue within the sector. That discussion is prevalent in Madison, where high rent and housing unavailability have prompted actions from the city and UW-Madison.
However, unaffordability extends beyond students, Timmins said. Many middle-income learners cannot afford to live in the city because they’re “priced out,” he added.
Timmins said rising interest rates make starting new projects increasingly difficult.
“We’re facing all sorts of headwinds with respect to building more housing,” he said.
The new track will give students the tools to explore this area of real estate in greater depth through curriculum and practical learning, according to a business school press release.
Timmins said the department is currently working to establish connections for an internship requirement within the track, something he was “pretty confident” will be part of the program.
Although the track’s curriculum is still being finalized, Timmins intends to have a required class on affordable housing financing. He also plans to revamp a class on green and sustainable housing development that will delve into topics like climate resilience and healthy housing.
Timmins will teach a new housing justice class focusing on some of the most pressing ethical issues in the industry, including racial wealth gaps, home ownership gaps and discrimination posed in the housing market.
With housing affordability and accessibility becoming a dominant narrative in real estate, Timmins said the department hopes to train future sector employees.
“My hope is that the master’s degree will be successful and these courses will be the building block for a larger set of classes here on similar topics that undergrads and people across the university can take,” Timmins said.