(Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)

Neal Rackleff will return to Locke Lord in Texas after serving for 15 months as a high-ranking official at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C.

Rackleff left his job as assistant secretary for community planning and development in mid-November and will start back at Locke Lord on Dec. 14, returning as a partner in the firm’s affordable housing and community development section. He will be based in Houston and Austin.

“Neal is very well known and respected, and he brings to the firm’s already highly regarded affordable housing and community development section unparalleled experience working in both local and federal government,” Cynthia Bast, a Locke Lord partner in Austin who is chair of the section, said in a statement.

Neal Rackleff

Rackleff’s return marks the second time he has boomeranged to Locke Lord. He initially joined the firm in 2005 but left to work from 2012 through 2016 as director of the housing and community development department for the city of Houston.  He returned to the firm as a partner in 2016 and then departed again in August 2017 after the U.S. Senate confirmed him for the HUD job.

Rackleff said he assumed he would work in Washington, D.C., for about 18 months before returning to private practice but said he and his wife decided recently it was time to make the change.

“I would have stayed to the end of the president’s term, but I wanted to get back to Texas for my family,” he said.

As assistant secretary at HUD, Rackleff oversaw about $7.9 billion in funding for affordable housing, economic development, revitalization and serving the homeless. He also managed $35 billion in long-term funding for disaster recovery related to hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. He assisted Congress in developing the statutes providing that disaster funding and he led the team that recommended to U.S. HUD Secretary Ben Carson how to allocate the money.

Rackleff said he looks forward to helping make Locke Lord’s affordable housing practice more national in scope and reach. He typically represents developers or governmental entities, focusing on community and economic development, affordable housing and municipal and public law.