(AUSTIN/HOUSTON) July 11, 2016 – Neal Rackleff, who has served as Director of the City of Houston's Housing and Community Development Department since 2012, has rejoined Locke Lord as a Partner working out of the Austin and Houston offices. Rackleff, who oversaw the city’s community development projects, strategic planning for affordable housing and neighborhood revitalizations, will focus his practice on community and economic development, affordable housing, and municipal and public law.
“Neal has extraordinary experience with federal, state and local programs for affordable housing and community development, resulting in numerous innovative projects,” said Cynthia Bast, Chair of Locke Lord’s highly regarded Affordable Housing and Community Development Section. “Combining his governmental and legal perspective will allow us to give added value to our clients across the country. We are thrilled he is part of our team.”
Rackleff joined the City of Houston in 2011, first serving as Deputy Director/General Counsel of the Housing and Community Development Department (HCDD), and then as Director. Among his most significant accomplishments as Director, Rackleff turned around the troubled $109 million CDBG Disaster Recovery Round 1 program, proving Houston’s ability to administer the complex housing program and leading to the allocation of an additional Disaster Recovery grant of $178 million in Round 2 of the program. When the Round 2 program was threatened with litigation from fair housing advocates, Rackleff negotiated an unprecedented agreement which engaged multiple communities and allowed Disaster Recovery dollars to be focused toward revitalization of targeted historically underserved, low-income areas.
In total, during Rackleff’s term as Director, HCDD produced 7,800 multifamily housing units (with another 2,700 in progress) and assisted 1,700 single-family homeowners with reconstruction of hurricane damaged homes, financial assistance to low-income homebuyers and emergency home repairs to ameliorate health and safety issues.
Rackleff also spearheaded the redevelopment of the historic downtown building now housing the J.W. Marriott Hotel and negotiated Houston’s first public/private partnership to address food deserts in the city.
In a previous tour of duty at the City of Houston Legal Department, Rackleff worked on two of the most significant development projects in Houston’s history: the redevelopments of Allen Parkway Village and the historic Rice Hotel.
“While working with the City of Houston has been extremely rewarding in that we were able to make significant changes in people’s lives and communities, I’m looking forward to working with the development community and at the policy level at Locke Lord, to revitalize neighborhoods and provide more affordable housing for low-income families,” said Rackleff.
Prior to joining the City of Houston, Rackleff practiced with Locke Lord. During his career he has gained a great deal of experience representing developers in negotiations with municipalities, counties and special purpose districts such as municipal utility districts, municipal management districts, public improvement districts and tax increment reinvestment zones in the formation of public/private partnerships to promote development of public utilities, roads, parks, drainage systems, and creating unique public spaces complementing private development.
He has served as a member of both the Board of the Houston Housing Finance Corporation and of the Coalition for the Homeless; and as a past member of the Board and Vice Chair of the Development Committee for the North Houston Association.
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