A Conversation with MBA Affordable Housing Advisory Council Co-Chairs

The Mortgage Bankers Association recently created two Affordable Advisory Councils, dedicated to supporting CONVERGENCE, the MBA Affordable Housing Initiative.  These Councils are currently led by four senior executives: Christine Chandler (M&T Realty Capital Corp.), Tony Love (Bellwether Affordable Housing Group), Anthony Weekly (Truist Bank) and David Battany (Guild Mortgage).

Steve O’Connor

“These Councils guide our efforts in working with key stakeholders on solutions to housing affordability,” said Steve O’Connor, MBA Senior Vice President for Affordable Housing Initiatives. “As economic, demographic and social issues continue to intersect, our members are committed to ensuring a healthy and equitable housing market.”

The Advisory Council on Affordable Rental Housing and the Advisory Council on Affordable Homeownership provide important advice, feedback and ideas on where MBA should focus its time/resources to be impactful and also serve its members.

The Affordable Rental Council priorities include emergency rental assistance in response to COVID-19, including renter counseling, and a new rental production program focused on workforce housing. The Affordable Homeownership Council priorities include minority homeownership and improvements to  down payment assistance programs. The two Advisory Councils are also working on a joint task force focused on lease-to-own options.

The Affordable Rental Council consists of 21 members; the Affordable Homeownership Council comprises 22 members. Both Councils reflect a cross-section of business models, company sizes and ownership structures.

MBA NewsLink recently posed questions to the Co-Chairs of both Affordability Councils:

Christine Chandler

Christine R. Chandler is Chief Credit Officer and Chief Operating Officer for M&T Realty Capital Corp. (MTRCC.) She is responsible for making credit decisions for MTRCC’s Multifamily and Healthcare transactions underwritten in the Agency and FHA platforms as well as managing the company operations. She has been with M&T since 1991 and has more than 30 years of commercial real estate experience. She also serves as Vice Chair of the MBA Commercial Real Estate/Multifamily Board of Governors (COMBOG) and is a member of the MBA Board of Directors. 

Anthony Weekly

Anthony L. Weekly is Senior Vice President and Head of Mortgage Strategic Growth with Truist Mortgage. He joined Truist in September 2015 and brings more than 30 years of sales, sales leadership, strategic project management and recruiting experience.

In his current role, he is a member of the senior leadership team which oversees Truist Home Lending. He is Head of Mortgage Strategic Growth, which is responsible for identifying profitable growth strategies and opportunities in the marketplace through accessing data science, demographics, and analytics with a primary focus on the underserved, first-time homebuyers, millennials, and inclusive lending. (

David Battany

David Battany is Executive Vice President of Capital Markets for Guild Mortgage Co. He oversees the firm’s capital market activities, including pricing, hedging and secondary market execution. He’s also responsible for Guild’s credit policy, shipping and product strategy functions. Prior to joining Guild, He worked for Penny Mac and Fannie Mae. He is chairman of the MBA Residential Loan Production Committee, as well as a Member of the MBA Residential Board of Governors.  

Tony Love

Tony Love is Senior Vice President with Bellwether Affordable Housing Group. He has more than 20 years of experience in mortgage banking, with particularly robust experience in affordable and conventional multifamily housing. Prior to entering the mortgage industry, he was executive director for a neighborhood nonprofit housing development corporation in Cleveland. He also worked as a city planner in St. Augustine, Fla. He served on the MBA COMBOG from 2014-2019 and was recipient of the MBA Burton C. Wood Legislative Services award in 2014.

MBA NEWSLINK: How and why did you become involved with the Councils?

CHRISTINE CHANDLER: I have financed several affordable multifamily properties and have been involved in the MBA programs for several years – after my first year as a member of COMBOG, I was asked to co-chair the new council by the leadership at the MBA. I was happy to get involved as helping to identify ways to expand rental housing is in crisis mode right now. The pandemic has really set things back even further and has created more challenges for people to find safe and affordable housing. I am honored to work with so many industry peers who also have a passion to help the mission.

DAVE BATTANY: I have been an active volunteer for over 30 years in the inner-city neighborhoods of Los Angeles county. I have worked as a board member for Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together, and also volunteered for the City of Pasadena as a Reserve Police Officer and I have conducted an annual toy drive and distribution for children living in the public housing projects since 1986.

I am a big believer in how homeownership provides financial and emotional stability to families. It is one of the single best wealth creation opportunities a family may have, and it greatly facilitates intra-generational wealth accumulation and transfer. Habitat for Humanity has done studies showing the correlation between homeownership and the emotional health of children and how well they do in school. Not being forced to move every few years allows children to set down local roots;  with best friends, neighbors, teachers, “uncles and aunts” and have an emotional connection to their community. Ripping away these emotional bonds, repeatedly, if a family is forced to move due to rising rents, exacts a terrible emotional toll on the children.

Improving the homeownership rate in a community directly correlates to an improved quality of life for everyone. Homeowners have a vested interest in improving their neighborhoods. They will care about the quality of their schools, about crime, graffiti, the quality of local services. They will be active in local politics. Improving the rate of homeownership is one of the most worthwhile things we can do in our lives. It creates emotional and financial security for children and families. It creates wealth that can pay for a child’s college or a person’s retirement. It connects people to their communities and makes the social fabric of our society stronger. Not being on the outside looking in, but feeling a part of your community as a homeowner can change a person’s entire outlook on the world.

ANTHONY WEEKLY: Truist Mortgage has been an active member and participant on various boards, committees, and work-streams with the MBA for a number of years, it’s a natural progression for their teammates to become actively involved with the MBA.

TONY LOVE: I heard that the MBA was considering forming an advisory council on affordable housing from Sharon Walker. I’ve always enjoyed navigating public and private programs that have an impact on residents and communities so I let her know I was very interested in participating. Next thing I knew, Steve O’Connor called and asked if I would consider co-chairing the Affordable Rental Housing Advisory Council with Christine Chandler. The reason I became involved is like so many other MBA working groups, these initiatives are an excellent platform to learn more about an issue, to exchange ideas with other engaged professionals and make recommendations to policy makers that can improve public programs and better direct public resources.

NEWSLINK: What are your goals as co-chair of your Council?

BATTANY: I would like to drive a meaningful increase in the homeownership rate of minority homebuyers, with a specific emphasis to help improve the Black homeownership rate. By providing emotional and financial stability to families, creating an environment where children can thrive, facilitating wealth accumulation and intragenerational wealth transfer, we will improve the social fabric of our communities.  

WEEKLY: Increase access to credit for homeownership in the communities that need it the most by working collectively with industry peers to ensure that access is affordable and sustainable. By doing this we will help close the wealth gap for potential homeowners, and in particular minority individuals and communities.

LOVE: We met in person at the 2020 CREF conference in San Diego to discuss goals for our Council.  Members discussed the need to expand affordable rental housing, address the needs of the “missing middle” and minimize NIMBYism. By “missing middle” we mean those households who earn slightly more than established program parameters yet are challenged to pay market rent for a decent apartment. Members discussed how Not In My Back Yard issues impede the development of new and affordable rental housing. 

CHANDLER: This is our second year since the Affordable Rental Advisory Housing Council was formed. The first year was really figuring out what to focus our efforts – there are so many areas of need that we decided to try to focus our attentions on the missing middle – the workforce housing sector who does benefit from as many government-sponsored programs and has incredible need. We are looking to identify the roadblocks or challenges that developers face when trying to focus their efforts on creating affordable housing. We are working together with about 20 industry experts to develop new ideas for housing. 

NEWSLINK: What are some key initiatives your Council is working on?

WEEKLY: CONVERGENCE Memphis, which addresses key affordable housing issues facing the mortgage industry which we rolled out to Columbus, Ohio, next; Sub work-stream CONVERGENCE Memphis – Servicing & Distressed Properties addressing servicing related issues including foreclosures.       

LOVE: Members of the Advisory Council possess a wide variety of experiences financing affordable housing. Projects typically combine low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) with mortgage debt and other subsidies. Members know firsthand the extended timeframes and challenges our clients face in developing affordable housing projects. We quickly came to the consensus that streamlining the financing process and accessing sufficient resources would greatly increase the production of affordable housing. The 4% LIHTC has been used to preserve or recapitalize existing affordable housing projects when the project is financed with tax exempt bonds. But the amount of subsidy this program generates hasn’t been sufficient for rehabbing existing projects let alone new construction. With the support of MBA, the Advisory Council engaged the national accounting firm, Novogradac & Co. to evaluate increasing the 4% credit and expanding the household income ranges such projects can serve. Once this analysis has been completed, we will then work with other trade associations and stakeholders to advocate for this.

BATTANY: We are trying to identify every obstacle that minority homebuyers face, identify solutions and create strategies to execute these solutions. No one person will have all the answers.  The challenges are numerous and complex. A working group of motivated people with diverse industry and persona life backgrounds, will provide the best insight to the issues and the best ideas on how to tackle them.

CHANDLER: Key initiatives include – we are working on a Moonshot Production Program that will recommend an additional program outside the traditional 4% and 9% tax-credit program; we are working on rental counseling to mitigate evictions and identify ways to help educate renters on personal finances; consider how to modernize older housing while maintaining affordability and work with the Affordable Homeownership Council to see how we can work together to make changes. 

NEWSLINK: Why are the Councils important, and how can they add value to MBA members?

LOVE: The various MBA Councils, committees and working groups provide an excellent opportunity for members to share their knowledge and expertise and to learn from other members. They also provide a platform for members to gain leadership and organizational skills that benefit their own organizations and advance their professional career goals. I can attest to the fact that my involvement with the MBA over the past 20 years has been exceptionally rewarding and helpful to my career development.

WEEKLY: The Council provides “thought leadership” and a consistent platform for various mortgage industry partners that work together collectively under the leadership of the MBA to address mortgage industry opportunities and challenges by impacting and making a difference in the communities we serve.

CHANDLER: The council is important because it helps to provide a forum for industry partners to meet on a regular basis to discuss new topics and share ideas towards helping to tackle the affordable housing crisis. Together we are better than one. 

BATTANY: The Councils are one of the best industry forums to bring together a diverse group of experts to understand and solve the pertinent industry issues of the day. The councils serve to educate MBA members on complex issues that require dedicated teams to research. Individual MBA members do not have the time or resources to independently conduct this depth of focus  on each new issue that pops up.  

CHANDLER: The council is important because it helps to provide a forum for industry partners to meet on a regular basis to discuss new topics and share ideas towards helping to tackle the affordable housing crisis. Together we are better than one. 

NEWSLINK: How important is having MBA as a platform for the Council’s work?

CHANDLER: I believe that the MBA provides significant resources to the Council – we are able to get summaries of current legislation, help to create networks with other groups and provide the guidance to keep us on track to make an impact. Without the backing of the MBA, we would not have the organization to keep us focused on working together. 

BATTANY: The Councils educate MBA members to the pertinent issues of the day, and serve as the nexus to harness a united industry effort to understand and solve issues. The strength and credibility of a unified industry voice is critical to successfully solving the challenges we face.

WEEKLY: It brings the various industry partners together to create an alignment and approach on collectively solving issues related to affordable housing and sustainable homeownership.

LOVE: The MBA staff, Steve O’Connor and Katelynn Harris, and many others have been incredibly helpful in supporting members’ participation on this Council. Participants have been extremely busy with their regular day to day responsibilities during this past year and quite simply, we would never have been able to remain as focused on this initiative without them. MBA’s financial support for the Novogradac study and their relationships with other trade associations and policy advocates will be critical in order for us to generate the support necessary to enact policy changes and funding to make this a reality.

NEWSLINK: How can MBA members help sustain the Councils’ goals and objectives?

BATTANY: MBA is the leading voice of our industry. MBA members can sustain and support the Council’s efforts by contributing time, resources and ideas to help educate, inform and drive solutions.

WEEKLY: Continue to be an active and engaged member participant by providing “thought leadership” on the issues of the day facing and related to housing affordability and sustainability. 

LOVE: Once we finalize our Novogradac report, MBA staff will reach out to their network of trade associations and policy advocates to market our findings and build consensus for expanding the amount of credits tax exempt bond financing can provide. For members that are interested in this initiative, this could be a great opportunity to have an impact on increasing affordable housing production in the years to come as well as expanding their own business prospects.

CHANDLER: We ask that any MBA member that has an idea – please send them to us or contact one of us to discuss. We are open to hearing from anyone that has thoughts on solving the affordability crisis – this is not something that will be solved by a few – it is the power of everyone working together toward the common goal of helping our neighbors to put everyone into safe and affordable housing. 

For more information about the MBA CONVERGENCE initiative, visit https://www.mba.org/advocacy-and-policy/convergence.