Charley Blount, '23

December 1, 2022

Two internships launch senior’s career in affordable housing

Charley Blount, ’23, has thought a lot about how he can best address social ills. Two internships helped the Mississippi native find his answer: increase affordable housing. 

“When you grow up in Jackson, Mississippi,” he said, “you are used to being last and being surrounded by problems, from crime, to education, to food insecurity, to water and sewer issues. These problems are all linked to where you live. Many people don’t have access to safe, affordable housing.”

With the support of a UR Summer Fellowship, Blount, a leadership studies and political science double major, explored this issue during his summer 2021 internship with Culleywood Capital. The community development financial institution supports underserved people and businesses in the Greater Mississippi Delta.

Blount and Culleywood’s two full-time employees worked directly with low-income clients, offering them single-housing rentals. “We accepted government-housing vouchers, which many landlords don’t,” he said. “I learned just how serious our affordable-housing shortage is.”

Last summer, he undertook his Jepson School of Leadership Studies internship as a multifamily credit and underwriting intern at the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, commonly known as Freddie Mac. The government-sponsored enterprise increases the supply of money available for mortgage lending. It is also a Fortune 100 company with over $3 trillion in assets and nearly 7,000 employees.

Historically, more than 90 percent of the eligible rental units Freddie Mac funds are affordable to families with low-to-moderate incomes earning up to 120 percent of area median income, according to the company’s website.

“During my first week at Freddie Mac, I worked with employees who reviewed $600 million in housing proposals in a single day,” Blount said. “It is encouraging to see money being pumped into affordable housing. We are building housing where it is needed, for people who need it. This gives me hope.”

Working with another intern, he created a risk-management database of large apartment buildings still affected by eviction moratoriums that originated during the pandemic. He considered the implications for the future earnings of these properties.

“How do you balance the need for housing with the associated risk?” he asked. “Freddie Mac has both a mission to promote affordable housing and a responsibility to make money.”

The writing-intensive Jepson School curriculum helped him hone his communications skills, which in turn distinguished him in a large pool of interns, the senior said. In Dr. Craig Kocher’s Justice and Civil Society class, he even had the chance to write a paper on affordable housing.

“Classes like Dr. Terry Price’s Critical Thinking also taught me to learn quickly and think on the fly,” he added.

After his May graduation, Blount said he will move to Arlington, Virginia, to join Freddie Mac as an underwriting analyst for the Multifamily Division. He will review developers’ proposals for apartments, deciding whether to award loans that typically range from $5 million to $100 million.

“Freddie Mac is doing the work I want to do, and it is doing it on a larger scale than anyone else.”