America’s Largest Public Housing Revitalization Effort
By HACEP CEO Gerald Cichon
After two years of planning, I am excited to finally get the implementation of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) initiative underway. We have created a RAD Implementation Team, which is dedicated to managing the rehabilitation or, in some cases, the total reconstruction, of our properties, as well as the relocation of what will ultimately amount to 20,000 residents. This first phase of construction — or as we call it, Tranche I — will touch approximately one-third of our public housing portfolio, and we expect to temporarily relocate 6,000 people during the 24-month estimated project time frame.
At the start of the year, in what has become HACEP’s innovative style, the agency closed on a complex $125MM bond transaction to help finance the first thirteen properties that comprise Tranche I. Additionally, with the help of new legislation supported by State Representative Marissa Marquez, HACEP is now able to leverage the four-percent housing tax credit program with the multi-family bond program to further address the financing needs to make our RAD initiative a reality. Our RAD project will use the largest number of four-percent housing tax credits in the state of Texas. State Representative Marquez’s support for House Bill 2878, a key piece of legislation that allows HACEP to combine multiple multi-family sites into a single “project” application, will facilitate the rapid rehabilitation of El Paso’s public housing infrastructure. HACEP’s $800 million redevelopment initiative was facing major financing hurdles until state legislation was passed that allows HACEP to make multiple bond draws in the same calendar year. HACEP will now be able to rebuild safe, affordable housing in a timelier manner for El Paso’s residents in need, while saving millions of dollars in development costs.
HACEP will now be able to rebuild safe, affordable housing in a timelier manner for El Paso’s residents in need, while saving millions of dollars in development costs.
HACEP also applied for and won two nine-percent housing tax credits to finance $22MM of the total reconstruction costs for both the Krupp and Tays Apartments. Without the momentum of the RAD program, I am not sure how we would have been able to tear down Tays, the oldest remaining public housing community in El Paso, and rebuild more than double the number of existing units to house and provide support services for needy families.
In April 2015, we kicked off construction with the first phase of the rehabilitation of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Complex, a 260-unit, 42-year-old property in the northeast region of El Paso. Following close behind the Eisenhower rehab, we shifted our efforts to the Lower Valley, tackling the first phase of Kennedy Brothers, a 240-unit family community
that was also built in 1973. Given the intricacies of planning our construction schedule and the size of these communities, we tackled the work on these communities in three phases; it was critical that they be completed in the time
frames allotted by RAD. We anticipate welcoming back families in six months’ time to residences — which are being stripped down to their wood frames that will be collectively transformed into energy and water-efficient communities.
The RAD initiative is new territory for both HACEP and HUD. I am proud that HACEP boldly leaped to shape this narrative with the largest commitment to a public housing conversion nationwide. We recognized and seized the opportunity to complete in five years something that we would never have
been able to accomplish surviving only off of the declining capital fund allocation from HUD. We have been testing old and setting new boundaries, breaking and re-creating new philosophical and physical frameworks, all while redefining our collaboration in the low-income and affordable housing space with HUD. I am confident that ours will continue to be an exciting journey for both our organizations.
I am proud that HACEP boldly leaped to shape this narrative with the largest commitment to a public housing conversion nationwide.
I want to thank all of HACEP’s former and current commissioners, City Council and the City of El Paso staff for their support of the RAD project and for believing with us that HACEP can improve the quality of life for 40,000 El Pasoans. I also want to thank the residents for their ongoing loyalty, sacrifice, and commitment, now and in the coming years, toward making our shared vision a reality.
Find out how HACEP is “Building Home Together” for El Paso by taking an inside look at our Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Report.