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Casstevens outlines challenges in creation and conservation of workforce housing

Wade Casstevens presents at Affordable Housing Speaker event.
By Elijah Larson | Wood Center Marketing Intern


At the joint inaugural event in the Leonard W. Wood Center’s Affordable Housing Speaker Series and the MBA Real Estate Academy Speaker Series, Wade Casstevens (’96), Managing Partner of Linden Property Group, spoke to undergraduate and MBA students about the challenges of conserving affordable housing in today’s market.

Casstevens touched on his experience in the field and how it has shaped his company’s view of the present and future creation of multifamily affordable housing units across the mid-Atlantic region.

“Really everything [Linden Property Group does],” Casstevens explained, “comes out of what we see and how we read the tea leaves of the housing industry, macroeconomy and sociological trends.”

He presented a brief outline of the region’s housing industry over the past 36 months, which is still reeling from the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Casstevens said he views the pandemic as a crucible within the commercial real estate field, separating those who are serious about the business from those who aren’t.

He also acknowledged the idea that real estate is often considered a hedge against inflation. By pointing out the disparity between the recent 5.3% average wage increase versus a 14.8% rent increase, Casstevens noted that inflation and home value increases are only good for those who own real estate, not those “consuming” or renting property.

Jim Spaeth, executive director of the Leonard W. Wood Center for Real Estate Studies, reinforced the importance of creating and maintaining affordable housing in an often changing and unpredictable economy.

“It is an unavoidable fact that we must do more to create and preserve affordable housing units,” said Spaeth. “This is especially true in a time when households face rising cost pressures across the board.  The Wood Center is working hard to help our students, and the broader real estate community, identify solutions to help ease America’s housing crisis.”

Beyond inflation, however, are other factors that threaten affordable housing production. Along with the national labor shortage and climate change, Casstevens also highlighted the misalignment of people who support affordable housing but protest the development of such buildings in their neighborhoods.

With the need for 4.3 million new apartments to meet projected demand over the next 13 years, Casstevens pointed to the current undercapitalization of low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) and the possibility of non-professional management which can result in poor supervision of revenue and resident services.

“Wade Castevens’ lecture on affordable housing was extremely relevant as we are facing a huge deficit in multi-family and workforce housing in the US,” said Virginia Troutman, a senior at UNC Kenan-Flagler. “He talked about how there is a mismatch between housing production and rent growth in the market that makes creating and maintaining affordable housing especially challenging. Ultimately, building more houses can only be part of the solution as job growth and economic resiliency are necessary to build resilient cities.”

First-year MBA student Andrew Makredes, who is concentrating in real estate, attended the event to learn more about strategies in preserving workforce housing in growing cities across the country.

“It was great learning about Wade’s work at Linden Property Group, transforming properties that have suffered from chronic underinvestment into places that residents are proud to call home,” said Makredes.

Looking to the future, Casstevens said he wants to “do well by doing good” by continuing to create housing that is affordable to families, offers community amenities, and is run by responsive and proactive management.

For more information on affordable housing, click here to learn about the Wood Center’s Affordable Housing Symposium scheduled for December 2.