Direct Technical Assistance and Capacity Building

Houston – Section 108 & Economic Development

Enterprise was assigned to conduct an assessment of the city of Houston in 2011. Based on that assessment, we provided technical assistance (TA) on a variety of issues relating to housing program design, strategic planning for disaster recovery funds, Consolidated Planning and resolving CHDO projects.

In 2014, the city asked Enterprise to provide TA to help build its staff’s capacity to administer its Section 108 loan program in conjunction with an expiring Economic Development Initiative (EDI) grant. We also worked to build the capacity of a large subrecipient that administers a CDBG economic development loan program.

Challenges: The key challenge facing the city was spending Section 108 and EDI grant funds on eligible activities and in target areas. In addition, they needed to build the capacity of the Houston Business Development, Inc. (HBDI) to administer a CDBG funded economic development loan program. Enterprise identified these challenges:

  • Housing and Community Development Department (HCDD) had $175 million in Section 108 authority but at the time had only drawn $28 million.
  • HCDD was not familiar with components of the delivery system for Section 108. It lacked experience evaluating Section 108 deals and compliance requirements for closing and disbursing funds.
  • The city was awarded $22 million in EDI grant funds, but had only used $10 million from its line of credit. They had committed to providing the funding to the Enhanced Enterprise Community (EEC) target area.
  • HBDI administers a small business loan program funded with CDBG funds but was not adequately documenting compliance with CDBG eligible activities and national objectives.
  • HBDI was interested in expanding its loan programs to include possible real estate transactions.

How TA was provided: Enterprise provided Houston and HDBI with TA and support in spending Section 108/EDI funds and building the capacity of HBDI to administer economic development programs.

  • We assisted the city in preparing eligibility criteria for the two Section 108 transactions in the EEC. Specifically, we helped document an eligible activity, national objective, appropriateness and conformance to the underwriting guidelines HUD approved for the Section 108 Loan Pool. In addition, we aided the city in determining the Section 108 and EDI percentages in the capital structure to ensure compliance with funding requirements.
  • We reviewed all components of the delivery system of the Loan Pool (marketing, screening, packaging, approving, closing, disbursement and portfolio management) for Level #1 and Level #2 transactions and provided recommendations to improve systems.
  • We assisted the city in amending the EDI Grant Agreement and securing an extension to obligate the unobligated funds in the EDI fund balance. We also helped the city develop a plan to obligate the remaining funds, including program income during the extension period.
  • We assisted HBDI in analyzing their existing Section 108 and EDI portfolio for financial feasibility and program compliance.
  • We developed updated CDBG guidelines for documenting eligibility and national objective compliance to be used by HBDI in the administration of economic development programs.
  • We built capacity of city staff to work with economic development intermediaries to identify capacity gaps and overlapping activities, and develop strategies to address these gaps and better align intermediary activity to meet local needs.
  • We convened work sessions with city and HBDI staff on capacity gaps and strategies to address gaps and better align long-term economic development strategies with short-term intermediary activities.

Results:

  • We helped to improve program and regulatory compliance by building capacity of HCDD staff to administer Section 108 and assisting in the evaluation and submission of A Loft Hotel and Savoy Hotel Section 108 projects. These projects were subsequently approved by HUD and committed the outstanding EDI balance.
  • We improved alignment of HBDI staff, systems and resources with program objectives and built their capacity to comply with CDBG eligibility and national objective compliance. We helped them to better understand the gaps in their existing delivery system and to improve related systems.

Greensboro, North Carolina – Rental Assistance Demonstration

Enterprise worked with the Greensboro Housing Authority (GHA) to support an organizational change management strategy as a result of the conversion of GHA’s entire public housing inventory through the Rental Assistance Demonstration program (RAD).

GHA received a RAD portfolio award for 2,203 units of public housing located in 20 different properties throughout the city. This conversion demanded significant planning in phasing of processing and closing transactions, management of rehabilitation activities, relocation of residents, resident engagement, ongoing asset/property management, organizational structure and future activities.

Challenges: The GHA faced two related challenges:

  1. Managing, with limited staff, the phasing of closing of multiple transactions with various financing sources and capital needs
  2. Implementing major organizational changes at the same time

Additional challenges included garnering staff support, training of staff, strengthening relationships with key stakeholders and potential partners, preparing to establish new lines of business and using two operational structures during transition.

How TA was provided: Enterprise organized a two-day visit to Greensboro to discuss the RAD implementation plan and strategies for GHA’s organizational change management. Enterprise met with the GHA’s CEO, COO, CFO and VP of Real Estate as well as representatives from HUD’s Office of Recapitalization. Prior to the visit, GHA shared its latest agency plan, financials and RAD project financing and phasing plan. Enterprise developed an agenda to discuss the following topics:

  • Current and future activities of GHA including real estate development, property management, asset management and resident services
  • Organizational structure and impact on board governance, executive management, operations, finance/accounting, real estate development and human resources
  • Stakeholder relationships with state housing finance agency, HUD, lenders, grant providers, city agencies, police, schools and social service providers
  • Communications (internal and external)
  • Best practices and resources for nonprofit developers
  • RAD and Public Housing Inventory dual management
  • Legal and organizational structure
  • Engaging in new business

During our visit, we made recommendations for the phasing of RAD transactions and the plan for communicating the organizational changes both internally and externally. We also recommended additional stakeholders with whom GHA should engage and possible activities that GHA should explore for diversifying its business lines.

Results:

  • Enterprise’s assistance enabled GHA to better phase their RAD projects and consider alternative scenarios for two of the highest need projects.
  • We connected GHA with resources that will aid organizational and management change and assist in preparing for future RAD activities.
  • As a result of our TA, GHA was more thoughtful in developing internal capacity that will contribute to the strengthening of overall organizational capacity for quality program delivery and use of RAD resources to meet community needs.

Puerto Rico – CHDO Technical Assistance

Enterprise conducted an island-wide needs assessment of 24 CHDOs and CDCs in Puerto Rico. As a result of the needs assessment, we developed and implemented a coordinated three-pronged approach to build organizational capacity of these groups.

Challenges: During the needs assessments, several challenges to developing affordable housing in a timely manner were identified:

  1. General lack of CHDO and CDC organizational capacity to undertake affordable housing development activities
  2. Lack of understanding and communication between key stakeholders (public and nonprofit entities, CHDOs, CDCs and lenders)
  3. Absence of accessible predevelopment funds

How TA was provided: The Enterprise team sought to address the three key challenge areas identified by the needs assessment. Enterprise staff traveled to Puerto Rico to meet with representatives from the key stakeholders. A series of events were held to address the issues of lack of understanding and communication between the public sector, nonprofit groups and lending community.

Enterprise also organized a series of brown bag sessions focused on market preparedness and working with government partners. Topics for these sessions included pro forma and pipeline review, financing strategies, and relationship building with government partners. We also created a predevelopment loan pool for qualified CHDOs.

Results:

  • The brown bag sessions contributed to increased capacity of CHDOs and CDCs. This is demonstrated through the quality of applications submitted for HOME funds and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC).
  • Prior to the TA, only one CHDO managed a true pipeline with projects in the following stages: predevelopment, construction and occupancy. Currently, three CHDOs have established project pipelines, contributing to an increase in production of affordable housing units.
  • The TA led to improved alignment of funding and quality of program delivery. Public financing entities have come together to leverage the island’s HOME, LIHTC, Section 8 and Law 173 (locally funded operating subsidy for senior housing) to release a unified NOFA where developers can apply for various financing sources through one application. This substantial development should reduce the length of time for the development process and increase timely use of HUD funds.
  • To address the lack of predevelopment funding, Enterprise put together a predevelopment lending pool with HUD Section 4 dollars. This could increase the number of affordable homes or people served, improve quality of program delivery and increase the timely and efficient use of HUD funds.

Puerto Rico – State Housing Finance Authority and Department of Housing

In March 2011, the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico recommended that HUD assist Puerto Rico in addressing the capacity gaps identified by a needs assessment on the organizational and staff capacity of agencies administering HUD programs. Technical assistance (TA) began by updating Puerto Rico’s State Housing Plan.

Challenges: Puerto Rico faces negative impacts related to the recession, its historical and deeply institutionalized silos and on-going political challenges. Historically, HUD has expended significant effort on providing training and TA to local agency staff, only to see them leave government service when a new administration takes office. This turnover has resulted in considerable loss of institutional knowledge and capacity, which in turn has led to lapses in program funding and suspensions of untimely or ineligible projects. This TA was part of a broader effort to sustain institutional capacity and improve use of federal funds.

How TA was provided: The Enterprise team encountered and overcame significant challenges related to staff capacity and turnover in Puerto Rico. In less than eight months, there were three different secretaries of Housing, which stalled adoption of the State Housing Plan. Through persistence and consistent communication, the team continued to build relationships that resulted in the completion and adoption of the Plan, execution of interagency collaboration agreements (Department of Housing, Housing Finance Agency and Commissioner of Municipal Affairs) and the development of a new approach to funding housing and community development efforts in a more transparent and targeted way.

We delivered TA to executive-level state agency leaders in the development of the State Housing Plan. Within the Housing Finance Authority, Enterprise provided direct assistance to HOME program staff.

Results:

  • Updated State Housing Plan with a concrete action plan and implementation schedule, better targeting resources to meet community needs and improving the quality of program delivery.
    • The Puerto Rico Housing Policy and Implementation Committee adopted the updated plan on October 24, 2014.
  • Assisted with execution of a collaborative agreement between central government funders to improve targeting of resources to meet community needs and demonstrate application of new knowledge, skills, behavioral and program models.
    • Signed by Office of the Commissioner of Municipal Affairs, PR Housing Finance Authority and PR Department of Housing.
  • Assisted with preparation of an Available Funding Matrix of affordable housing-related resources across all agencies on the island to improve targeting of resources to meet community needs. The Matrix will be used to increase timely and efficient use of HUD funds furthering the application of new knowledge, skills, behaviors and program models.
    • Incorporated all HOME (Commonwealth and San Juan), LIHTC, Section 8 (Commonwealth and San Juan), Law 173, FHA, HOPWA, NSP1, NSP3, CDBG, CDBG-DR, CoC, CoC2, Section 202/811, HUD Assisted Living Conversion Program.
  • Supported the development of a modified QAP and unified NOFA process that aligns resources (HOME, LIHTC, Section 8 PBV and Law 173) and meets objectives of commonwealth’s top priorities. This will increase the number of units or people served and improve program and regulatory compliance and financial management systems, controls and oversight.
    • This effort will improve underwriting through the creation of an interagency underwriting committee.
    • The unified NOFA will decrease the amount of time it takes developers to align resources from 3 years to 6 months.
  • Assisted the Housing Finance Authority with resolving audit findings and monitoring issues. This included identifying workout strategies on at least 34 projects that contributed to improving program and regulatory compliance as well as improved financial management systems, controls and oversight.
    • Discrepancies exist between the IDIS project entries, HOME Grant Agreements (specifically pro rata share of designated HOME units) and actual project distribution of units.
    • Conducted an analysis of all HOME-funded Rental Projects and all HOME/LIHTC-funded rental projects and categorized them into three groups (high impact, moderate impact and low impact). Also recommended resolution strategies.
  • Green TA improved targeting of resources to meet community needs, improved the quality of program delivery, program and regulatory compliance and allowed the recipients to immediately apply their new knowledge, skills, behaviors and program models.
    • Intro to Energy Star v.3 (Puerto Rico/Hawaii) Training conducted on April 17, 2013, with over 150 attendees.
    • The Energy Star Training inspired two architects to travel to Atlanta for HERS Rater Certification.
    • Conducted Energy Star Certification Training to 26 architects, engineers, general contractors and HVAC contractors. 23 attendees passed the EPA provided test by scoring an 80 or higher.
  • Worked with Housing Finance Agency to resolve six IDIS flags and develop a HOME repayment plan.
  • Assisted the municipality of Mayaguez with revisions to their HOME policies and resolution of four audit findings.

The City of Los Angeles

Enterprise Advisors provided strategic support to the city of Los Angeles using the Consolidated Plan to weave together both transit and housing funding sources. LA’s adopted Consolidated Plan was the first in the nation to adopt a coordinated, place-based approach with a focus on equitable, transit-oriented development.

Challenge: The city of Los Angeles faced two related challenges:

  1. Providing housing and services for the city’s increasing number of residents with low- and moderate-incomes
  2. Addressing the city’s notorious and worsening traffic congestion

Additional challenges include:

  • Building leadership buy-in and support for change
  • Developing a strategic vision, drawing on the voices of many stakeholders
  • Building staff skills to carry out highly technical mapping and analysis work
  • Overhauling slow funding and compliance processes

How TA was provided: Enterprise provided support to stakeholders at all levels—leadership, line staff and the community—as they engaged in planning activities:

  • A cross-agency planning group comprised of key line staff was convened to work on neighborhood-level strategies. The group used data and maps to understand neighborhood issues and prescribe strategies in four neighborhoods.
  • An intensive community participation process was used, during which data-rich maps communicated potential strategies and neighborhood outcomes and facilitated stakeholder conversations.

Results:

  • Enterprise’s assistance enabled city leaders to develop a collective vision to align their community and housing plans. This resulted in the approval and publication of a ground-breaking Consolidated Plan that sets a vision for equitable, transit-oriented and place-based growth in Los Angeles.
  • Enterprise also assisted in the successful consolidation of two of the city’s community development departments, resulting in improved coordination, communication and efficiency. This new consolidated department is now better positioned to ensure that the city’s investment decisions are aligned with the goals and strategies of the new Consolidated Plan.

The City of New Orleans

Starting in 2012, Enterprise provided comprehensive technical assistance (TA) to New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) under Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and OneCPD work plans. We developed affordable housing financing tools and design programs to support local initiatives and deployment of funds.

Challenges: The city of New Orleans needed TA to create a fund that would support mixed-use and mixed population housing as part of its Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness. The city also needed help with streamlining its NSP policies and procedures in order to meet goals and deadlines in a compliant manner. As a recipient of NSP, CDBG and CDBG-DR funds, the city faced the challenge of allocating their program income and designing programs for the post-Hurricane Katrina rehabilitation of single-family properties and the redevelopment of vacant lots.

How TA was provided: We provided onsite TA working directly with staff at NORA to streamline its NSP program for compliance and closeout and provide training to increase staff capacity. We also provided remote assistance including bi-weekly calls with NORA staff to discuss program design and implementation of NORA’s single-family rehabilitation and construction programs.

Results:

  • Enterprise structured the Louisiana Loan Fund to support the redevelopment of vacant and blighted single-family properties in New Orleans.
  • The TA enabled NORA to improve accounting systems to track federal funding in sufficient detail.
  • We guided NORA through the design and launch of a new down payment assistance program.
  • We worked with the city’s underwriters to build capacity and tools to support underwriting functions. As a result, the city’s project managers developed the capacity to underwrite an affordable housing development and gained an understanding of how to work out a stalled project.
  • We delivered Energy Star Training for HVAC contractors that resulted in five new Energy Star credentialed HVAC contractors in New Orleans (there were none previously).