The housing industry was hit hard by the recession, causing a slowdown in the development of new projects and the rehabilitation of aging complexes that has resulted in unprecedented pent-up demand, especially for affordable housing. Now that the economy is on the road to recovery, interest in a variety of housing transactions is on the rise.

At the same time, government support of housing projects is decreasing, forcing developers, investors, syndicators, lenders, and governmental agencies to approach housing development more creatively, building more vibrant, affordable, and sustainable communities.

And Ballard Spahr’s Housing Plus blog is keeping close watch on these evolving trends.

Our knowledgeable bloggers are tracking a variety of issues relating to the development and financing of housing, including real estate issues, HUD programs, tax credits, and bonds as well as policy considerations. We also are addressing key concerns outside of the traditional development context that are relevant to housing, such as labor and employment, social media, energy, health care, environmental compliance, and EB-5 Immigrant Investment Program issues and opportunities.

Housing Group

Ballard Spahr’s housing practice, one of the largest in the country, has long been a leader in providing innovative and practical advice in the development and financing of affordable housing and community development projects nationwide. Our attorneys assist clients in innovative transactions, combining public housing redevelopment with energy improvements, continuing care facilities, school construction, and transit-oriented development.

We have worked with more than 75 housing authorities nationwide, advising on the demolition, disposition, and development of public housing and other affordable housing projects. We frequently work with private developers and governmental agencies to implement multi-phased, large-scale revitalization projects; obtain HUD regulatory waivers; and structure and close transactions involving capital fund and other private activity bonds as well as private financings using various tax credits. We have assisted in the closing of hundreds of bond transactions as bond and underwriter’s counsel, and in thousands of tax-credit transactions. We routinely represent borrowers and more than a dozen lenders under all of the multifamily programs of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and HUD.

The knowledge and experience of our housing team make Ballard Spahr’s Housing Plus blog a go-to resource for the latest developments in the housing industry and for thoughtful analysis on how the various housing pieces fit to create affordable, sustainable projects for the future.

We hope you will join the conversation.

Housing Plus is a blog focusing on the latest news, trends, and developments in the housing industry. It is a go-to resource for thoughtful analysis on how the various housing pieces fit to create affordable, sustainable projects for the future.

The blog is produced by members of Ballard Spahr’s Housing Group, which has long been a leader in providing innovative and practical advice in the development and financing of affordable housing and community development projects nationwide.


Amy M. McClain | | 410.528.5592 | view full bio

Amy M. McClainAmy has extensive experience representing public housing authorities and affordable housing developers in mixed-finance transactions. She has closed several affordable housing transactions involving a variety of funding sources, including Low Income Housing Tax Credits, HUD funds, tax-exempt bonds, state housing finance agency loan funds, and conventional financing. These transactions have provided her with the opportunity to negotiate issues with and finalize evidentiary submissions to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in addition to addressing traditional real estate issues intertwined with low-income housing development.

Amy is the Baltimore contact for the firm’s Pro Bono Committee and oversees Ballard Spahr’s partnership with the world-renowned Kennedy Krieger Institute to provide pro bono support through Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy, and Law), a community-based program offering advocacy and legal services to low- and moderate-income families.

Amy was named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women for 2014 by The Daily Record. The annual award recognizes the accomplishments of women who have achieved professional success and are making a difference through their leadership, community service, and mentoring.

As a teenager, Amy was a tour guide in historic Annapolis and served as a page in the Maryland Senate. To this day, she can provide interesting tidbits about colonial architecture in Annapolis, including details about the State House design and history. She extends this interest in history to reading novels touching on other time periods and ways of life. At the moment, she and her daughter are working their way through the “Little House on the Prairie” series.

Lila G. Shapiro-Cyr | | 410.528.5624 | view full bio

Lila Shapiro-CyrLila represents clients in real estate acquisitions, development, leasing, and financing. She has significant experience in complex mixed-finance affordable housing, representing a variety of public housing authorities in ongoing redevelopment efforts, including Tucson, Arizona; New Orleans, Louisiana; East St. Louis, Illinois; Santa Fe, New Mexico; New York; and Puerto Rico. Her clients also include owners and developers of commercial real estate properties, with a focus on shopping centers and urban developments. She is a member of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore’s Business and Economic Development Committee and sits on the Board of Trustees for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.

Lila was recognized in the 2013 edition of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business as “Up and Coming” in the area of real estate law. She was named among 2012’s Top 100 Women in Maryland by The Daily Record (Baltimore), in recognition of “high-achieving Maryland women who are making an impact through their leadership, community service, and mentoring.” The Daily Record also named her one of 2010’s Leading Women.

Lila is an avid runner, having run seven half-marathons and her first full marathon in 2013. In a former life, she had aspirations of being a sports journalist, but is now resigned to spend much of her summers in the upper deck behind home plate at Camden Yards. Most of her free time is spent with her two aspiring major leaguers, her 9-year-old and 6-year-old sons.

Jeffrey S. Ballard | | 202.661.7622 | view full bio

Jeffrey S. BallardJeff regularly acts as counsel to lenders, borrowers, credit enhancers, issuers, and underwriters in the structuring and negotiation of complex taxable and tax-exempt financings. His finance experience spans nearly two decades and encompasses a broad range of industries and projects, including housing, manufacturing, educational, health care, water resource, transportation, hotel, cultural, and general commercial facilities.

Jeff also has substantial securitization experience involving auto receivables, municipal bonds, commercial mortgages and leases, home improvement loans, and mutual fund fees. His practice includes significant work with interest rate swaps, caps, and other derivative products in both the primary and secondary markets. Jeff handles debt restructurings and workouts. He also has served as bond counsel on hundreds of financings for public entities.

Christopher D. Bell | | 202.661.7604 | view full bio

Chris leads the firm’s FHA and GSE Financing Team and advises and represents real estate lenders, borrowers, and developers on transactional and regulatory issues, with a concentration on financing transactions involving government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) such as Fannie Mae.

Prior to joining Ballard Spahr, he practiced for more than 10 years at Fannie Mae, a GSE chartered by Congress to support the secondary mortgage market. As the agency’s Associate General Counsel of Housing and Community Development, he served as Fannie Mae’s lead attorney for affordable housing transactions and secondary market construction loan participations and syndications. His experience includes a variety complex real estate finance transactions, including those involving mortgage-backed securities, bond credit enhancement, mezzanine debt, senior housing, and pool purchases. Chris also has years of experience with form loan documents, requirements for Delegated Underwriting and Servicing (DUS) lenders, and product enhancement review and design.

Chris and his wife have three children.  He enjoys practicing his Spanish and French, tennis and spending time with his family.

Molly R. | 202.661.7638 | view full bio

Molly R. BrysonMolly has significant experience representing major banks and companies with their investments in affordable housing, solar energy, businesses in low-income communities, and historic preservation using tax credits and commercial and subsidized financing. She has provided strategic advice to investors, syndicators, and developers in structuring the financing for low-income housing apartment complexes, ensuring that various federal and state subsidies work in tandem to allow for their development and continued operation. Her experience in this area of real estate development has made her an effective negotiator in complex business transactions.

Molly also practices in the renewable energy financing arena by representing investors and sponsors of solar energy projects across the United States in diverse markets and sizes. She structures the tax aspects of these transactions using industry frameworks such as partnership flips and the lease pass-through.

Mary Croft | | 215.864.8738 | view full bio

Mary CroftMary focuses primarily on real estate finance, including balance sheet and CMBS loans. She is known for her work in syndicated subscription facilities and lines of credit to private equity firms and real estate investment trusts. She also handles matters involving construction lending, revolving lines of credit, and New Markets Tax Credit issues.

Mary represents banks and other lenders, as well as borrowers, developers, and community development entities. She also has experience in the creation of joint ventures involving institutional investors.

Garland W. Gantt III | | 202.661.7629 | view full bio

Garland W. Gantt IIIGarland is an associate in Ballard Spahr’s Real Estate Department and a member of the firm’s Housing Group and FHA and GSE Financing Team. He was a summer intern in 2010 for the Hon. Herman C. Dawson, Prince George’s County Circuit Court.

Garland played basketball at the University of Hawaii and is an avid follower of the game, watching at least 15 games a week (between college and NBA). “I also love cars, motorcycles, and anything that goes fast, and in my spare time I like to work on cars,” he says. “I would consider myself a technology junkie and I am generally interested in cutting-edge technology.”

Mary Jo George | | 202.661.2208 | view full bio

Mary Jo GeorgeMary Jo is Practice Co-Leader of Ballard Spahr’s Housing Group and Team Leader of the FHA and GSE Financing Team. She focuses primarily on multifamily and senior facility real estate finance transactions. She is especially experienced in FHA insurance, Ginnie Mae mortgage-backed securities, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conventional and bond credit enhancement programs.

Mary Jo was named among Real Estate Forum magazine’s “Women of Influence” in 2013.

David M. Gest | | 215.864.8143 | view full bio

David M. GestDavid works on general real estate matters, with a focus on zoning and land use. He has experience collaborating with city planners, architects, landscape architects, and environmental consultants on major real estate development projects. He also has worked with city agencies and community groups on zoning and historic preservation matters.

In addition to his law degree, David holds an undergraduate degree in architecture and a master’s degree in city planning.

Amy M. Glassman | | 202.661.7680 | view full bio

Amy M. GlassmanAmy represents public housing authorities, developers, nonprofits, and other recipients of HUD funds in regulatory, administrative, transactional, and related matters. She has extensive experience with HUD regulatory and statutory compliance issues and works closely with housing authorities on implementation of HUD’s Moving to Work (MTW) program.

Amy advises clients on fair housing, accessibility, and disability issues related to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Fair Housing Act, including policy development and fair housing investigations. She also defends clients in HUD debarment actions and Office of Inspector General audits and investigations.

Amy’s transactional practice includes work on mixed-finance public housing projects and related issues such as HUD demolition and disposition applications. She also advises clients on conversions of public housing to Section 8 using various methods, including disposition, voluntary conversion, and HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program.

Prior to becoming a lawyer, Amy worked as an affordable housing consultant at the Cambridge Housing Authority and at TAG Associates.

Teri M. Guarnaccia | | 410.528.5526 | view full bio

Teri M. GuarnacciaTeri is known for her work on real estate finance transactions, including representation of large institutional lenders. She has a particular focus on the public finance area, where she has acted as underwriter’s counsel, borrower’s counsel, and bond counsel in numerous tax-exempt and taxable bond financings. She has experience with a range of financing structures, including traditional fixed-rate, variable-rate, and multimodal structures involving various forms of credit enhancement and liquidity support.

She shows her support for the Maryland economy (which is how she justifies playing) as a frequent participant in Mega-Millions drawings (and no, not just when it gets “really big”). When she wins, she and the group she plays with plan to create a foundation with the majority of their winnings. With the remainder, she will start her soon-to-be-world-famous bakery, Sweet G’s.

 Jayne Mariotti Hebron | | 215.864.8578 | view full bio

Jayne E. MariottiJayne is an associate in the Public Finance Department. Before joining Ballard Spahr, she was a law clerk for the Hon. Timothy Rice of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She also served as a law clerk for the Office of the General Counsel at the University of Pennsylvania and as a legal intern for the Federal Prisoner Reentry Clinic at Rutgers University.

Jayne is from a big family. She has 3 siblings, 1 niece, 3 nephews, 26 aunts and uncles, over 50 first cousins, and more than 100 second cousins. When she’s not working, she loves to cook and travel.

Courtney E. Hunter | | 202.661.7679 | view full bio

Courtney E. HunterCourtney handles a wide range of complex affordable housing development and real estate transactions involving low income housing tax credits, private financing, bond financing, HOME loan financing, and housing authority fund financing.

Courtney represents housing authorities and private developers in public housing conversions under the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program and advises them on their portfolios in mixed-finance transactions. She also counsels clients in the sale, acquisition, or refinance of HUD-insured properties, including Transfer of Physical Assets (TPA) approvals. She also has experience with the transfer of Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Contracts in the Section 8 program.

Amber Mohr | | 410.528.5537 | view full bio

mohr_amber_1Amber Mohr is an associate in the firm’s Real Estate Department. She has served as counsel in closing real estate loans that are federally insured by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under various sections of the National Housing Act, with responsibility for protecting client interests by ensuring compliance with applicable statutes, regulations, and policies. She has experience closing transactions involving a variety of funding sources, including Low Income Housing Tax Credits, tax-exempt bonds, state housing finance agency funds, and the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program.

Amber dabbles in photography and has made her way through the local community college’s photography classes. Her favorite muses and subjects to photograph are her two young sons.

Juan Pereira | | 202.661.7635 | view full bio

Juan PereiraJuan concentrates on transactional finance and commercial real estate finance, with an emphasis on multifamily housing finance.

He represents lenders in multifamily housing transactions structured under Fannie Mae’s DUS and Small Loans products, Freddie Mac’s Portfolio Execution and CME products, FHA financing, and USDA Rural Development Section 538 financing, as well as in conventional construction, acquisition, and refinancing transactions.

Juan is a D.C. local and roots for all of the local sports teams. “I know we didn’t make the playoffs, but next year we’re going all the way,” he has been known to say during too many off-seasons.

Dameon M. Rivers | | 202.661.2231 | view full bio

Dameon M. RiversDameon handles commercial real estate purchase, sale, mortgage, lease, development, litigation, and land-use matters for commercial developers, builders, investors, banks, mortgage lenders, and property managers. He concentrates on commercial real estate and multifamily finance.

Dameon counsels private equity and traditional real estate clients in all matters related to the acquisition and leveraging of income-producing property. He also counsels regional banks, national lenders, and insurance companies in the origination, negotiation, documentation, closing, and modification of commercial, real estate, construction, and participating loan transactions.

Before entering the law, Dameon worked for a large consumer and real estate lending firm, managing credit approvals and debt collection activities. He leads Ballard Spahr’s Diverse Non-Partner Lawyers Group.

Linda B. Schakel | | 202.661.2228| view full bio

Linda B. SchakelAfter spending nine years with Ballard Spahr, Linda left the firm in 1995 and spent two years as an attorney adviser in the Office of Tax Policy of the U.S. Treasury. During her time at the Treasury Department, she had primary responsibility for tax legislative and regulatory projects in the areas of tax-exempt bonds, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, empowerment zones and enterprise communities, work-opportunity tax credits, and welfare-to-work tax credits.

Linda returned to Ballard Spahr after her stint with the federal government and is now a partner in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office. She has done numerous tax-exempt bond financings for 501(c)(3) organizations, including charter schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, continuing-care facilities, independent schools, museums, and cultural institutions. She has served as tax counsel for empowerment zone financings in the District of Columbia and other jurisdictions. Most recently, she has been active in the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Program as a natural extension of her work with empowerment zone tax incentives. She has given speeches and published papers on NMTC and has served as counsel to various participants in these transactions.

Before law school, Linda taught gifted elementary-school students and teachers of gifted students at the University of South Florida and several universities in the Washington, D.C., area.

Maia Shanklin Roberts | | 202.661.7667 | view full bio

shankun-roberts_maia_1Maia Shanklin Roberts represents housing authorities and private developers in a wide range of complex affordable housing development and real estate transactions. She has been involved in numerous affordable housing, adaptive reuse, and mixed-use transactions involving federal, state, historic, and energy tax credit syndications, tax-exempt private activity bonds, and other public financing.

Ms. Shanklin Roberts’ background is in community development. She worked with Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and has led several community-based initiatives, where her role was to facilitate public/private partnerships and leverage community-based resources to aid underserved communities in Washington, D.C.

Maia is a DC native and in her spare time loves to dance and spend time with her son.

Jere G. Thompson | | 215.864.8501 | view full bio

Jere G. ThompsonJere focuses on municipal finance, with an emphasis on tax-exempt private activity bonds (including housing, university, health care, manufacturing, and exempt facilities) and traditional municipal general obligation and revenue bonds.

He has extensive experience with mortgage revenue bonds, multifamily residential rental bonds, exempt facility and manufacturing private activity bonds, and traditional municipal general obligation and revenue bonds, including variable-rate and various types of credit-enhanced financings. He also has extensive experience with derivative products, such as multi-mode bond indentures, dutch auction securities, and securitization of tax-exempt and taxable bonds where bonds are deposited into a trust and derivative products are issued in the form of principal and interest strips. He has been involved in a multitude of financings for variable-rate and interest-rate swaps.

A nationally recognized leader in the area of military housing privatization initiatives, Jere has been involved in almost $2.5 billion worth of military housing privatization transactions, spanning all three branches of the armed forces, since May 2004. All of these financings involve complex real estate, historic preservation, and environmental issues; negotiations with the Army, Navy, and Air Force; securities law compliance concerning public and private bond offerings; and federal, state, and local tax issues.

Shanellah Verna | | 202.661.7684 | view full bio

verna_shanellah_1Shanellah Verna is a member of the firm’s Real Estate Department, where she handles general real estate matters. She has experience with federal, state, and local housing laws as well as with property dispositions, regulatory compliance, licensing, corporate governance, and tax issues.

While in law school, Shanella interned at the District of Columbia Housing Authority in the Office of the General Counsel of the Real Estate and Transactional Law Group, where her duties included compliance review of management documents and proposed regulations, drafting of legal memoranda and legislative materials, and assisting with property dispositions.