I’m thrilled to welcome Chaundi Randolph to the Nixon Peabody Affordable Housing team. Chaundi comes to Nixon Peabody after 12 years at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), where he was the lead HUD attorney for a number of key programs—the Public Housing Mixed Finance, Multifamily Section 202 elderly, and Section 811 disabled housing.
I hope you’ll soon get the opportunity to meet with Chaundi—whether virtually or in person. For now, I’ve asked Chaundi to expand on his background and share how we can support affordable housing.
What brought you to affordable housing?
As a first-generation law student, I had very limited exposure to the diverse practice area options that a lawyer could pursue. My first legal aspiration was to be a litigator—think Johnny Cochran, Willie Gary, etc. However, in my third year of law school, I had the opportunity to participate in the Community Economic Development (CED) legal clinic at Florida A&M University College of Law. That experience exposed me to legal issues involving development, housing affordability, and gentrification.
The CED legal clinic showed me that you could practice law in a manner where it was not as much of a zero-sum game. I found affordable housing and community development law to be much more collaborative—everyone wants to get the project done despite differing interests in doing so. Since I essentially tracked myself into litigation with my course work up until that experience, I chose to pursue a Masters of Laws in real estate development at the University of Miami (The U!) to get a firmer footing in all aspects of real estate development and finance.
While at Miami, I had the opportunity to clerk in a law firm’s affordable housing practice group and develop experience to couple with my education. From there, I went deeper by joining HUD’s Office of General Counsel as a Legal Honors attorney, and the rest is history.
Other than the law and your family, what interests you?
I have many interests outside of the law, including travel (I have been to multiple countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America), languages (I have studied Kiswahili and Yoruba, among others), fitness/running/weightlifting (I have completed a number of “tough mudder” runs, the New Jersey marathon, and a couple of half marathons and 5Ks), hiking, mentoring teenage youth, and working on/restoring classic and muscle cars!
What is something important developers should consider when working on a HUD multifamily property?
Developers seeking to utilize HUD and FHA programs in their developments should use and involve experienced development team partners early in the process of structuring their deals. Also, I would add that when seeking to use novel strategies to integrate HUD development tools into your project, engage HUD early in the process and view them as a true development partner. Seek to get approvals for novel approaches early in the development structuring process, as this helps to minimize surprises further down the road. There is nothing worse than a deal delay or total derailment that could have been avoided with early and frequent communication with HUD.
What is one step people can take to support affordable housing development?
Affordable housing is a national resource and a part of the social infrastructure of our country. As originally envisioned, affordable housing was intended to serve as both a safety net and a launching pad for families.
Unit counts and dollar amounts aside, every unit that we put into service represents a kitchen for people to nourish their families, bedrooms for people to tuck in their children at night, and living rooms that will serve as a setting for families to bond and create memories.
Coming from a household one generation removed from public housing, I can attest that once the need for decent, safe, and affordable housing is met, families can focus their energy on other areas to aid their advancement.