Iyen A. Acosta

Washington, DC Office

Iyen A. Acosta is an associate who represents public housing authorities, and developers engaged in affordable housing development using mixed-finance resources, including the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD).  She also represents management companies whose portfolios include HUD and USDA Rural Development-assisted units. Iyen is part of the firm’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution practice area and represents public housing authorities, development entities, and management companies, as well as statewide and local organizations, in complex federal and state litigation and administrative proceedings.

Selected Recent Transactions

  • Represented a developer on a series of public housing redevelopment/rehabilitation LIHTC transactions in Florida.
  • Represented a New Jersey housing authority in a land swap transaction which required concurrent acquisition and disposition approval from HUD.
  • Assisted in closing a mixed finance deal in St. Louis, Missouri, that involved 77 units and over $16 million in financing.
  • Assisted in the representation of a housing authority to close a 40-unit development in Massachusetts involving Neighborhood Trust funds, HOPE VI, LIHTCs, and Affordable Housing Trust funds.
  • Assisted in the simultaneous closing of two phases of a development in New Orleans, Louisiana, that combined involved more than 200 units and over $65 million in financing.
  • Assisted in closing the first mixed finance transaction in Texas, a 188-unit multifamily development and involved Capital Funds, OFFP Funds, LIHTCs, and HOME Funds.

Selected Recent Litigation Matters

  • Currently representing a housing authority in a Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Administrative Procedure Act (APA) challenge in federal district court.
  • Currently representing a housing authority in an FHA, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 dispute with the Department of Justice.
  • Currently representing a developer in an FHA challenge in federal district court.
  • Currently representing a housing authority in an FHA and Moving to Work Program dispute.
  • Currently representing housing authority and property management clients regarding the administrative process for reasonable accommodation requests and fair housing complaints filed with state civil rights organizations and HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
  • Currently representing federally qualified healthcare centers in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in various proceedings in federal court as well as bankruptcy proceedings under PROMESA.
  • Concurrently represented a client in an APA case in federal district court and in various related administrative cases in USDA’s National Appeals Division regarding USDA’s Section 515 program.
  • Represented a housing authority client in multiple petitions for judicial review cases in Maryland state court regarding the housing authority’s grievance process.
  • Assisted with the representation of a housing authority in federal district court seeking an order requiring HUD to allow use of capital funds to support police services.The case was settled.
  • Assisted with the representation of a housing authority opposing a motion for attorney’s fees.The parties settled the motion for a fraction of the $128,000 requested by opposing counsel.
  • Assisted with the representation of a statewide housing advocacy organization in an amicus curiae appearance in New Jersey Appellate Division court. The case challenged taxation of housing authority-owned property by the city. The housing authority lost on summary judgment motions at trial and appealed. The amicus appearance was instrumental in securing a remand of the case for a trial on the merits.The case was settled.
  • Assisted with the representation of a statewide affordable housing and community development professionals’ organization and seven member housing authorities in an appearance on behalf of the appellee housing authority in lead-based paint liability litigation. The case resulted in a favorable decision for the appellee housing authority in the Maryland Court of Appeals.

Major Prior Work Experience

  • Reno & Cavanaugh, Paralegal – Assisted associates and partners on HOPE VI and mixed-finance transactions, as well as matters dealing with nonprofits and affordable housing generally.  Assisted in representation of housing authorities and development entities in complex federal and state litigation.  Oversaw the conflicts and contracts database for R&C.
  • Columbus Community Legal Services, Advocacy for the Elderly, Student Attorney – Represented low-income residents of the District of Columbia on various matters, including drafting wills and powers of attorney, resolving insurance claims, and settling unemployment benefits claims.
  • Reno & Cavanaugh, Senior Legal Assistant - Oversaw client contract processing system by drafting client contracts, amendments and addendums, maintaining contract files and assisting in client contract reviews.  Supported attorneys and paralegals by assisting with evidentiary submissions to HUD, assisting with deal closings with various housing authorities, developers and housing finance agencies and processing daily administrative tasks.  Developed standard policies and procedures to improve firm-wide efficiency and productivity, including Standard Contract Processing Guidelines and Conflicts Check Policy.

Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, “Hot Topics in Fair Housing,” HDLI 2021 Spring Legal Conference (May 6, 2021).
  • Speaker, “Front Burner Fair Housing Topics – VAWA, Housing of Immigrants, HUD’s Newly Proposed Disparate Impact Liability Standard, HUD’s Newly Proposed Guidance on Service Animals and More,” , San Antonio, TX (October 11, 2019).
  • Speaker, “Housing Undocumented Immigrants & Tenant Privacy Rights – Open Records Requests, Securing PHA Systems, Data Sharing Agreements, and More,” , Washington, DC (May 10, 2019).
  • Instructor, “Fair Housing: What is it and How Do I Comply?” Nashville, TN, February 2019; Knoxville, TN, November 2018.
  • Speaker, “The New Public Housing Annual Contributions Contract (ACC) – What has Changed and What are the Legal Implications?” , Atlanta, GA (October 26, 2018).
  • Speaker, “Front Burner Fair Housing Topics – Immigration Issues, Sexual Harassment in Housing, Status of AFFH and Disparate Impact Standards, and More,” , Atlanta, GA (October 26, 2018).
  • Speaker, “Avoiding Liability for Harassment of Clients and Staff – Sexual Harassment, Housing Harassment, Workplace Harassment, Applicable HUD Guidance, and Best Practices,” , Arlington, VA (May 17, 2018).
  • Speaker, “Where Attorneys are Most Useful in PHA Operations and Planning,” , Tampa, FL (February 15, 2018).
  • Speaker, “How Far Should Your No-Smoking Policies Go? – Strategies to Address Enforcement, Marijuana, E-Cigarettes, Reasonable Accommodations, and More,” , Pittsburgh, PA (October 28, 2017).
  • Speaker, “The Impact of Increased Immigration Enforcement on Affordable Housing,” (October 2017).
  • Speaker, “The State of Housing Initiatives Under the New Trump Administration PART 2 – HOTMA, MTW, Section 8, Immigration, and More!” , Washington, DC (May 11, 2017).
  • Moderator, “How Recent HUD Guidance on Criminal Records and Histories Affect Your Admissions, Terminations, and Grievance Decisions – Challenges and Best Practices,” HDLI 2017 Spring Legal Conference, Washington, DC (May 12, 2017).


Catholic University Columbus School of Law, J.D., cum laude

  • Editor, Catholic Law Review

University of Maryland, B.A. in Government and Politics, cum laude

Bar Admission

District of Columbia Bar

Maryland Bar

Also admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and the United States Court of Federal Claims


Fort Washington, MD