200 Pascua Yaqui Families Get New Homes Through Arizona Tribal Tax Credits
picture by Madison Thomas/Cronkite News: The first phase of 50 homes is under construction on the Pascua Yaqui reservation near Tucson and should be ready by the end of the year.
Through Madison Thomas/Cronkite News
TUCSON-The Pascua Yaqui Tribe built 200 affordable homes after receiving millions of dollars in tax credits to fund the project on the reservation southwest of Tucson.
Keith Gregoire, director of housing for Pascua Yaqui, said the tribe has 1,100 families on a waiting list for affordable housing. However, 200 of those families will be placed in homes once construction is complete this year.
“I think the average wait for families is around seven years,” he said, “so these are families who are waiting and in desperate need. You don’t sign up to be on a waiting list for housing if you don’t need it.
Seniors and people with disabilities are on a priority list, but other than that, the waiting list for housing is first come, first served.
“It’s really meant to keep the process as fair as possible,” Gregory said.
The new development will be completed in three phases and will feature different housing styles, including single family homes and townhouses.
“What we’re trying to do has never been done before anywhere in tribal housing,” Gregory said. “The phase we are currently working on is literally the largest tax credit project ever in the United States on tribal lands.”
Gregory said it took about six months to secure the funding.
“It really came down to just simple conversations and getting people around the table and explaining what we were trying to do and who we were trying to help and how this project would have a real long-term positive impact,” said- he declared. noted.
The project received $18 million in low-income housing tax credits from the Arizona Department of Housing. They were sold to private investors at $0.86 per dollar, totaling around $15 million. This money was matched with tribal funds and an Affordable Housing Program grant through the Foothills Bank.
Alejandro Marquez, a field engineer for FCI Constructors working on the project, said there have been several construction delays.
“COVID was definitely one of them. We lost a lot of manpower for a long time,” Marquez said.
Half of the 50 houses in the first phase of construction were originally scheduled to be completed in March, but they are now expected to be finished by the end of June. All houses in the first phase should be built by the end of the year.
After renting houses for 15 years, tenants will have the option of buying the house at a reduced rate.
“We give people that sense of pride and investment in their community. This allows families to begin building generational wealth from home equity. Housing is more than just buildings. said Gregory. “It’s an opportunity to help people achieve their own goals.
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