REPM Program Director Fred Prassas incorporates elements relating to political advocacy into each course. “Real estate is one of the most politically sensitive industries in terms of rental housing and private property rights,” he said. “Practitioners need to be actively engaged in the political environment.
“A famous legislator once said, ‘politics is not a spectator sport.’ We invite the students in the IREM club to participate in political advocacy days at both the national and state levels as a learning experience in issue-oriented political advocacy. These events offer an outstanding opportunity for students to meet lawmakers and foster lasting relationships as future experts in their field,” Prassas said.
A recent article by Forbes explained White House actions to protect renters and promote rental affordability, stating that the call-to-action is aimed at easing the burden of housing costs and improving renters’ quality of life, including actions to increase fairness in the rental market and further principles of fair housing.
The White House’s actions align with the Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights, which provides protection for renters, including safe, quality, accessible, and affordable housing; clear and fair leases; education, enforcement and enhancement of renter rights; the right for renters to organize; and eviction prevention, diversion and relief.
With more than a third of Americans renting their homes, state stakeholders are being rallied to drive further action to protect renters in line with the blueprint, and the Resident-Centered Housing Challenge calls for housing providers and other stakeholders to strengthen practices and make commitments that improve the quality of life for renters, the article added.
The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, which has financed more than 87,300 rental units since its founding in 1872, has made an early commitment in support of the challenge.
IREM is an affiliate of the National Association of Realtors, which has 1.5 million members. It is committed to creating resources that highlight ways property managers can incorporate resident-centered property management practices in their businesses, the article stated.
UW-Stout’s REPM program and IREM student club are working to address affordable housing locally. “We’re working with the City of Menomonie and Dunn County on housing solution forums, led by Momentum West. Wisconsin is at the forefront of affordable housing,” said Lecturer John Sobota.
A forum early this spring began with an overview of west-central Wisconsin’s housing and addressed community-based solutions to housing shortages, housing’s impact on workforce development, and the construction of both tiny homes and multifamily housing for people of varying income levels.
Program support through private gift
The REPM program is housed in Heritage Hall, which is due for renovation. Private support for the renovation continues to grow, including a gift by Dean Weidner, founder and owner of Weidner Apartment Homes based in Kirkland, Wash.
Recently, Weidner announced a $1,050,000 donation to Stout University Foundation. The donation will also provide up to 20 scholarships a year for five years. First-year and transfer REPM students are eligible for one $5,000 award. The awards are available to new students beginning this fall.