Bracewell & Giuliani LLP represented the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso (Housing Authority) as bond counsel in Phase I of the country’s largest rental assistance rehabilitation project, which includes the rehabilitation of approximately 1,600 public housing units with approximately $250 million initial public/private investment, and could potentially expand to a $1 billion project over the next five years to rehabilitate the remaining public housing stock of the Housing Authority. Through the program, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) transfers ownership of the city’s public housing to the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso.
The project allows the Housing Authority to use tax-exempt bond financing together with low income housing tax credits to rehabilitate and replace deteriorating residences to meet current and future housing demands.
"It is a priority to provide sustainable and affordable housing for folks that are in the greatest need,” said Julián Castro, Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “For too long, local housing officials tasked with preserving public housing and creating new affordable units have been constrained by tight federal budgets and tough economic conditions that made local funding scarce. The Rental Assistance Demonstration turns that funding stalemate on its head - allowing public housing authorities and owners of other HUD-supported properties to access private financing to rehabilitate and preserve existing affordable housing – expanding opportunity in communities like El Paso and across the nation,” said Castro.
“The Rental Assistance Demonstration initiative is a game changer that will transform the way we think about public housing well into the future,” said Gerald Cichon, El Paso Housing Authority Chief Executive Officer. “The benefits to the City of El Paso are unprecedented, bringing $500 million in public and private investment to our City with a $1 billion local economic impact. We are proud that this is the first in the State of Texas and the largest in the country,” continued Cichon. The El Paso Housing Authority is the fourteenth-largest housing authority in the country and is the largest in Texas. Instrumental in the financial structuring of the project and management was the Housing Authority CEO, Gerald Cichon, and its CFO, Satish Bhaskar.
Bracewell attorneys involved in this transaction include:
Partners: Jane H. Macon, William T. Avila, Victoria N. Ozimek, Carey R. Troell, Michael D. Bernard and Blakely Fernandez
Associates: Shelby A. Gutierrez and Brian P. Teaff
Due to the complexity of the transaction, 14 project participants were represented by the following law firms in addition to Bracewell: Mendel Blumenfeld PLLC (El Paso); Coats, Rose, Yale, Ryman & Lee (Houston); Reno & Cavanaugh PLLC (Washington, D.C.); Ballard Spahr LLP (Philadelphia); Nixon Peabody (New York); Jones Walker LLP (Cincinnati); Naman, Howell, Smith and Lee (Austin); Art Provenghi, HACEP General Counsel (El Paso); and HUD Office of General Counsel (Washington, D.C.).