Meet Mark Dambly, president of Pennrose Properties, LLC, one of the nation’s most active developers of affordable housing.

His Philadelphia-based firm owns approximately 10,000 units of affordable housing and continues to develop throughout the Northeast.

Pennrose has developed special-needs and mixed-used properties and has been involved in the preservation of affordable housing.

Q How did you get started in the affordable housing business?

A My current partner, Richard Barnhart, and I were college roommates and best friends. I had been in the home-building business and wanted to try something different. We had dinner, and he suggested I come work with him in the affordable housing business.

Q What innovative move has your company made recently that others can learn from?

A We have gone from having project developers manage deals independently to working in teams. This allows us to have better coverage, people with different skillsets working together and adding flexibility.

Q Tell us about one of your most recent affordable housing developments.

A We were selected by Baltimore to redevelop two contiguous properties, one a former public housing site and the other an FHA (Federal Housing Administration) foreclosed property, which combined had more than 500 units on 55 acres. When completed, we will have demolished all the properties, installed all new infrastructure, and redeveloped the site into 225 affordable and market-rate rental units and 220 affordable and market-rate for-sale units as well as a clubhouse. A true new neighborhood.

Q What do you think is the biggest misperception about affordable housing?

A People not specifically in this sector are not aware of the complications. The affordable housing business is probably the most challenging sector in the real estate business. Complex financing structures, innovative design, limited operating funds, challenging resident issues, to name a few.

Q What will be new for Pennrose in 2008?

A Increased commitment to our core business, continued focus on employee growth, and retention.

Q What is the last book you read?

A Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv.

Q If you had tomorrow off work, where would we find you?

A At the beach with my wife and children.

Q If you were throwing a dinner party and could invite anyone, who would be on the guest list?

A My mother and father.