Real estate experts like Kevin Seawright know gentrification brings with it possibilities of improving neighborhood housing and infrastructure elements. But this improvement can also come at a high cost for the area’s existing inhabitants, who can be pushed out of updated housing arrangements targeting higher income tenants. The outcome is renovated housing that does not accommodate the people who are already living there, forcing them out of the area entirely.
According to recent statistics from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Baltimore ranks among seven cities in the U.S. that account for half of urban gentrification from 2000-2013. And this trend continues even today, presenting unique challenges to communities throughout Baltimore that are primarily comprised of black and Hispanic residents.
Entrepreneurs like Kevin Seawright are hard at work striving to combat this problem with affordable housing that improves living conditions without outclassing existing residents. “Affordable housing opportunities are drying up, leaving almost nothing for middle- to lower-income families that are interested in homeownership,” explained Seawright. “No path exists for many people to purchase properties in cities that they’ve called home their entire lives.”
That’s where companies like Kevin Seawright’s RPS Solutions can make an impact. RPS has proven that it’s possible for firms to support community improvement efforts, turn a profit that supports business operations, and ultimately develop properties that remain affordable for lower-income families. Real estate development firms can responsibly improve housing and infrastructure without the price gouging that often comes with gentrification efforts. According to Kevin Seawright, as these neighborhoods become more desirable, developers have a responsibility to keep pricing affordable rather than seizing opportunities for extreme profits by doubling or even tripling rates.
One of the perpetuating struggles that face many families who are pushed to the outskirts of newly gentrified areas is the rent cycle. By continuously paying rent to landlords, rather than investing in a mortgage or their own real estate, they are spending their hard-earned funds without being able to gain a return of their own on them. RPS Solutions, led by Kevin Seawright, is working to change this by developing responsible real estate that can be attainable to existing residents, allowing them a foothold to improve their own circumstances.
These first-time home buyers need more than just affordable housing. They often require assistance navigating the unfamiliar waters of homeownership. RPS offers value-added services to help buyers move forward responsibly and with complete understanding of the process. Kevin Seawright explained, “RPS provides support at every level, including offering closing help to all buyers, as well as guaranteed home warranties to assist with repair costs. RPS also provides continued counseling for new buyers to make sure that they will always be able to afford to maintain their homes from day one.”
All of these efforts combine to help families in Baltimore improve their circumstances and remain in the communities that they have come to love. Seawright noted that all developers have the opportunity to create affordable housing as they progress with their construction projects: “There’s no reason that working-class families need to be left behind as new construction takes place.” Businesses can put Baltimore first by remembering that people from all walks of life and all economic statuses live within the city limits and are entitled to positive community development. Seawright shared, “The goal for everyone should be to achieve a quality level of homeownership. This option should not be relegated to those at the top. We improve the community at all levels if we create opportunities for middle- and lower-income families as well.”
To this end, RPS Solutions continues to pursue development projects that help create diverse communities in the face of gentrification that threatens to marginalize lower-income families. “We look for areas in Baltimore and surrounding counties where we try to find homes that we can invest in, construct and stabilize them and then be able to sell them back to first-time homebuyers at an affordable price point,” explained Seawright.
By developing affordable housing projects and providing support to home buyers, RPS Solutions and Kevin Seawright are making a direct investment within Baltimore communities and with individual families. RPS leads by example when it comes to real estate development, creating accessible and affordable housing options for people from all backgrounds and in diverse, livable communities across Baltimore that are inclusive and designed with infrastructure in mind.