Kevin Seawright of RPS Solutions: “Owning a business will open your mind to new heights”

Owning a business will open your mind to new heights. The level of thought and transparency helps you become a better version of yourself. The brainstorming necessary to make your business model work helps you achieve a higher level of greatness than you ever thought possible. In many large cities in the US, there is […]

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Owning a business will open your mind to new heights. The level of thought and transparency helps you become a better version of yourself. The brainstorming necessary to make your business model work helps you achieve a higher level of greatness than you ever thought possible.


In many large cities in the US, there is a crisis caused by a shortage of affordable housing options. This has led to a host of social challenges. In this series called “How We Are Helping To Make Housing More Affordable” we are talking to successful business leaders, real estate leaders, and builders, who share the initiatives they are undertaking to create more affordable housing options in the US.

As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin Seawright.

Kevin Seawright is the Founder of RPS Solutions LLC, a firm that specializes in buying and developing real estate for middle- to lower-income families, and first time homebuyers. Kevin has a strong background in financial operations, having served the state of Maryland as Chief Financial and Facilities Officer for one of Maryland’s largest Departments of Recreation and Parks. Kevin’s vision for RPS is to maintain a healthy and more diverse Baltimore by creating a path to homeownership in underserved communities.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Growing up in Philadelphia, I saw the rent cycle keeping communities from financial freedom firsthand. Many people, from family to friends, were stuck paying rent on properties that they could barely afford, instead of having the opportunity to pursue homeownership. When I moved to Baltimore, the same problem persisted: entire neighborhoods paying rent to landlords instead of homeowners that could invest in their own communities.

The problem was not difficult to witness; there was a lack of available resources, especially in inner-city communities that didn’t have financial access to achieve quality homeownership. Paying a landlord for your entire life is not a good investment, and it does not help with financial stability. What’s more, it doesn’t connect residents with their community.

I’m deeply passionate about Baltimore in particular because I’ve worked for the city. For about a decade, I’ve held various positions in the Baltimore city government that allowed me to see the struggles of inner-city residents firsthand. As a property director, I oversaw 200 buildings and have managed more than 500 contractors. That experience has been invaluable for understanding the daily struggles of the community and teaching me what it takes to manage a large number of properties.

Utilizing that background in operations and finance, I started to pursue opportunities that would help me provide housing resources to Baltimore residents. RPS Solutions LLC is committed to providing affordable homeownership opportunities. We want to provide opportunities for inner-city residents to break that cycle and achieve financial stability and build generational wealth.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Our initial development endeavor was a major failure. In 2010, we saw an opportunity with the housing market in Las Vegas. But it wasn’t meant to be. Pretty quickly, we found out that our capital at the time was only a 10th of what we needed to pursue attractive properties successfully. But it was an important learning opportunity. That incident put our egos in check, and we learned what it meant to be in competition with cash developers in the future.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

RPS Solutions LLC really hit the ground running in 2015. From the knowledge that we gained after failing to secure a property in Las Vegas, we completed our first development project. We had the capital, construction personnel, and a data-driven process in place to ensure that we would be successful. That was the real start of the RPS mission to make affordable housing a possibility for our target demographic.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I firmly believe that you are only as good as the people that you allow into your space. I’m incredibly grateful to my mentor Kenneth Brown, a vice president of construction and one of the initial investors in RPS Solutions. It was his initial support and staunch belief in me and the RPS team that helped make this dream possible.

Starting out was an exceedingly difficult task. We had very strong individual financiers, but RPS was still in its infancy in 2015. Despite that financial backing, banks turned us down, but Brown believed in us, and his personal financial investment put us on the way to the success that we’re seeing now in the Baltimore home market. There are so many people to thank for making RPS possible, but Brown has been one of the most important.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

I don’t have one particular book; in my field, it’s more about reading any available items on affordable housing development. We’re also constantly studying ways to alleviate housing barriers in inner cities so that we can open access to homeownership to even more people. I’m also always keeping up with the latest financial news as it relates to real estate. This helps RPS pursue new innovative financing structures that help more families pursue homeownership.

As I said at the start, the main goal was to help people get away from paying rent to landlords and invest in something for themselves. I take that very seriously, so any time I can learn something that aids RPS Solutions in that goal is extremely rewarding to me.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Pigs get fed, and hogs slaughtered.” It’s one of my favorite quotes because it says that greed is unacceptable. The real estate development industry is filled with people that don’t see the bigger future. Too many individuals are concerned with buying up properties or building homes that are too expensive to sell and prices out underserved communities.

The goal should always be to serve communities and provide individuals with their first step toward financial security. As a real estate developer, you’re a part of the community too. Developers can have continued success without letting greed get in the way.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the shortage of affordable housing. Lack of affordable housing has been a problem for a long time in the United States. But it seems that it has gotten a lot worse over the past five years, particularly in the large cities. I know this is a huge topic, but for the benefit of our readers can you briefly explain to our readers what brought us to this place? Where did this crisis come from?

Gentrification has been driving income inequality in major cities for the last few years. A massive uptick in the younger suburban generation shifting to residing in major cities has been increasing average home costs dramatically. But gentrification has hit Baltimore especially hard. If you look at the numbers, Baltimore accounted for half of all gentrification in the United States from 2000 to 2013. That trend has continued into 2021, and the city continues to lose working-class families in traditionally black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

With newly increased demand, some real estate developers have seen this as a way to increase prices. In just a short period of time, home prices in many cities have doubled and, sometimes, tripled. Baltimore is one of the most affected. Affordable housing opportunities are drying up, leaving almost nothing for middle- to lower-income families that are interested in homeownership. No path exists for many people to purchase properties in cities that they’ve called home their entire lives.

Can you describe to our readers how your work is making an impact to address this crisis? Can you share some of the initiatives you are leading to help correct this issue?

Our mission at RPS Solutions is to develop homes that remain affordable for middle- to lower-income families. We want to create healthy communities by providing a support system for families, senior citizens, and people with special needs to access homeownership. With so many neighborhoods being gentrified, it’s more important than ever that we make these opportunities available to the people who make Baltimore great.

Plus, 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.

Can you share something about your work that makes you most proud? Is there a particular story or incident that you found most uplifting?

Helping families is the most rewarding part of my work. Knowing that we’ve helped a family purchase their dream home, something they might have thought was impossible, is an incredible feeling. Seeing their children smile when they visit the new home for the first time is particularly rewarding. You can’t describe what that means, but you know that you’ve done something really good for the community.

My entire team and I cherish those opportunities on every project. Hearing grateful stories from our home buyers achieving something they never thought possible means the world. That’s what keeps RPS Solutions going.

In your opinion, what should other home builders do to further address these problems?

Developers should consider adding affordable units to all projects moving forward. There’s no reason that working-class families need to be left behind as new construction takes place. There’s room for higher-income families to live in the city, but we shouldn’t give up on the people who already live in Baltimore. Their ability to invest in their community should remain a possibility.

Although RPS can’t control the business models of other developers, we can hope that the practice of adding affordable units to single and multi-family projects becomes universal.

Can you share three things that the community and society can do to help you address the root of this crisis? Can you give some examples?

Be financially prudent with your credit and savings. Managing your credit is an extremely important part of the process. Lenders start there before considering any individual for a home loan. If you are not prudent with credit and your financial records, you significantly lower your chances of being able to purchase a home. The same is true of savings. Being smart with your money and making sure that you set something aside to invest in yourself is important.

Continue to work in the community in which you live as much as you possibly can. Add something to your local economy, and try to keep investments going inside those neighborhoods. Improving the local landscape and maintaining your neighborhood are extremely important.

But perhaps most importantly, as I stated previously, developers should continue to build affordable units for families. Developers need to take some responsibility for the gentrification crisis going on in Baltimore right now. 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.

If you had the power to influence legislation, are there laws which you would like to see introduced that might help you in your work?

Absolutely. I’m very consistent in my opinion that any single- or multi-family development should be required to insert at least 50 percent affordable options for middle- and lower-income families. That would even the balance of homeownership in this country. But it would also open up more financial opportunities and add to the diversity in Baltimore County. Investing in your local community improves the quality of life for everybody and creates positive change from within.

Baltimore’s situation is unique in that gentrification has been affecting white and black neighborhoods almost equally. Creating more affordable housing opportunities would ensure that we retain those diverse groups that are being forced to leave.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started leading my company” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

Buy a multi-family property early. By having a multi-family property, we were able to improve our banking relationships more quickly. Because of the larger equity stake, we were also able to increase lines of credit for purchasing further properties.

Be willing to sacrifice. At RPS, we work tirelessly to ensure that we are doing the best for our tenants and first-time homeowners. It’s a very demanding process, and you have to put in some long hours. But the work is worth it to further RPS’ mission and provide opportunities to the people who need them most.

Life, as you knew it before, is over. Due to the demands of my job, I have missed so many functions, family gatherings, and fun times with friends to stay committed to this work. The work is extremely rewarding, but it’s very taxing.

Owning a business will open your mind to new heights. The level of thought and transparency helps you become a better version of yourself. The brainstorming necessary to make your business model work helps you achieve a higher level of greatness than you ever thought possible.

Trust your team. As a visionary leader, there are things that you can miss while pushing the agenda and success of your enterprise. Make sure that you have employees who aren’t scared to tell you “no.” Successful teams need balance, someone to level out differing personalities so that we can all work together and get the job done.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to see a financial subsidy created, where every family that shows financial prudence and credit worthiness receives a 5,000 dollars grant toward homeownership. Currently, there is a lot of focus on how to reduce financial aid debt, which is imperative. However, even if reduced, there will still be individuals with high debt balances. If there was a home grant option nationally, it could help reduce strain and create new home buyers. Opening up opportunities for homeownership to responsible individuals at all income levels would be a net benefit for the entire country.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Marcia Fudge, the United States housing commissioner. I want to have a better understanding of the overall plan for traditional housing and how it will be executed in the coming years. I would also like the opportunity to discuss affordable housing issues in our current climate. I want to know what we’re doing at the national level to make sure that those middle- and lower-income families aren’t being left behind.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Our website is RPSSolutionsLLC.com. There, you can learn more about our mission statement, homes that we’ve developed, and our plans for the future.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much, and we wish you only continued success.

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