The Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s Housing Department has been awarded tax credits for a $19.5 million project from the Arizona Department of Housing (ADOH) Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program to fund its newest housing project, Itom Pohco’oria Kari’m or Our Desert Homes. 

The project will create a new neighborhood on a 40-acre vacant plot on the southern end of the reservation in Tucson, located at S. Kau Bo Oh and Camino Cocoim. It will offer 50 units of mixed-income, single-family housing in two-, three- and four-bedroom home styles. The project is part of the highly anticipated Yaqui Square development.

“This is a unique opportunity for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, as single-family homeownership development using tax credits is virtually unheard of anywhere,” says Keith Gregory, director of housing for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. “Our Tribal Council has been extremely supportive of this project, and we are grateful for their trust. In the future, we hope to expand this innovative approach in affordable housing to other Pascua Yaqui Tribal communities across the state.” 

According to Peter S. Yucupicio, chairman, bringing affordable housing to the reservation is of critical importance to the Council. “Giving tribal members of all income levels the opportunity to purchase a house means more of our members will reside on the reservation and will continue to give back to the community.” 

The Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s newest housing project, Itom Pohco’oria Kari’m or Our Desert Homes, will include this two-bedroom home style.

A mixed-income approach brings additional benefits to the community, in addition to encouraging both low- and moderate-income families to apply for housing.

“Studies have shown that mixed-income neighborhoods encourage people to do better, foster diversity, and create more equity in communities,” says Gregory. “Being exposed to people at different income levels is even proven to help children do better in school. We are thrilled to see the outcome of applying that research into our approach.” 

This is the largest tax credit the Pascua Yaqui Tribe has ever been awarded by ADOH, and is one of the largest housing projects ADOH has ever awarded on Tribal land. 

“This is only phase one of three phases of the Yaqui Square development; our vision is to create an entire subdivision,” says Gregory. “We’re hoping with this project that we can encourage homeownership, as we have a waiting list of about 1,200 families who want and desperately need housing.” 

The project will have a focus on cutting-edge concepts, incorporating ultra-modern design, smart home features, high quality amenities and green construction standards such as xeriscaping and solar panel capabilities.

“This style isn’t really seen anywhere else in affordable housing across the U.S. – in both Native and traditional affordable housing projects,” says Gregory. “By pushing the envelope, we hope to set a new standard for affordable housing across the country.” 

The Tribe is partnering with Travois Design on the project and has not yet announced a general contractor or investor partner. Construction is expected to begin in 2021, with the goal of having the project completed by 2023.