Student and Alumni Spotlights

Olubori Agboola, MCRP

Global Perspectives, Local Impact: A Quest for Affordable Housing Equity

Olubori BoriAgboola

Master of City and Regional Planning, Class of 2024

Lagos, Nigeria
Certificate/Specializations: Affordable Housing/ Community Development and Housing
Activities at Rutgers:Graduate Student Representative to the American Planning Association, New Jersey Chapter  
Personal Interests: Entertainment/fashion, hanging out with friends, New York nightlife, volunteering, music, stage performances on Broadway; watching documentaries, night shows, cartoons, and films and talking about them with friends

One of Bori’s first memories from his childhood was that he talked a lot.  

No matter where I was or whom I was with, I always engaged in a conversation!” he said. “I can be very outspoken because of my family; being the last child, I was raised to be friendly and always voice my opinion.” 

As an undergraduate at Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria he joined the press club, the Junior Chamber Initiative, and attended several conferences. These activities, and his natural outgoing personality, exposed him to the social, cultural, and environmental issues affecting his community.  

He studied Urban and Regional Planning as an undergraduate and was particularly interested in the conditions of informal housing settlements in the rural coastal communities of Lagos City.  

“I was involved with several research projects and joined the Lagos Food Bank Initiative, an NGO that provided relief materials and food items to vulnerable communities post-flooding disasters,” Bori said. “My interest in housing conditions influenced my research into affordable housing, and my eventual application to the Bloustein School.”  

One of his first classes when he arrived in the U.S. was Principles of Housing taught by Professor Eric Seymour. “A lot of my U.S. housing knowledge came from that one class, and made a huge impression on my career path,” he said. He began working as a research intern at the Ralph W. Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement, helping with studies about food security and affordable housing.  

Last summer he interned with the Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies at Rutgers-Newark, where he looked into community organizations and their influence on social, economic and housing development in Newark, NJ. 

He gained practical experience in a Bloustein School graduate planning studio, working on a downtown rehabilitation initiative for the borough of Dunellen, NJ. The studio focused on the Main Street America program and brought in national, state, and local perspectives to combine historic preservation with downtown economic growth. The graduate studio team hosted public presentations for the mayor, members of the Dunellen Borough Council, and the public at a redevelopment community meeting 

Earlier this year his policy memo, “Addressing Health Disparities in the United States: Air Pollution’s Impact on Housing in Low-Income Communities,” was published in the Winter 2024 edition of New Jersey Urban Mayors Press, published by the John S. Watson Institute for Urban Policy & Research. 

“The brief sheds light on the critical intersection between environmental justice and housing equity,” he explained. “Delving into the detrimental effects of air pollution on vulnerable communities, I explore actionable strategies to mitigate these disparities and promote healthier living environments for all.” 

As an international student, he says it is important to build quality relationships with faculty and fellow students. “You come to understand that no one ‘knows it all,’ and its okay to seek clarification for what you are learning,” Bori continued.  

Looking into the dynamics of public housing and community development in the U.S. has been interesting to me, mostly because it is unique compared to what exists in Nigeria. My professors and friends helped me fully comprehend these differences.”

I want to contribute my skills and knowledge to local and global housing research and development by working with agencies that share the same goals and interests,” he said.