The Pascua Yaqui Tribe will soon break ground on its first master-planned community on reservation land southwest of Tucson.
The tribe’s housing department has been granted $19.5 million by the Arizona Department of Housing Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program to develop phase one of a community called Yaqui Square.
The first 50 single family homes will be built on 40 vacant acres on the southern end of the reservation, west of Camino de Oeste and Hermans Road. Prices will be determined based on the market when the project is complete.
The community’s first phase, to be called Itom Pohco’oria Kari’m (Our Desert Homes) will have two-, three- and four-bedroom models.
Residents will be a mix of low and moderate income. The mixed-income approach is designed to help families work together.
“In traditional public housing, every body is the same ... low-income families without many two-parent households,” said Keith Gregory, director of housing for the tribe. “When children grow up among other people, they get to see the family where the father is a teacher at the University of Arizona and it shows kids all the other things that are possible.
“Kids don’t learn what they don’t see.”
The Arizona program is a dollar-for-dollar credit against federal income tax liability for the owner, developer or investor. In this case the Pascua Yaqui Tribe sold the value of the tax credit to a third-party investor, Raymond James Financial, which provided the cash for the project and will be the beneficiary of the tax credit, Gregory said.
“This is a unique opportunity for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, as single-family homeownership development using tax credits is virtually unheard of anywhere,” he said, noting it is the largest tax credit the Pascua Yaqui Tribe has ever been awarded by the state, and is one of the largest housing projects ADOH has ever awarded on tribal land.
To qualify for housing, tribal members must be at or below 80% of the area’s median income. In this case, that would be a $54,700 annual income for a family of four.
“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,” said Peter S. Yucupicio, the tribe’s chairman.
There are about 1,200 families currently on a waiting list for housing on the reservation.
The homes will be modern in design with smart-home features and solar capability.
The tribe is partnering with Travois Design on the project and has not yet announced a general contractor. That bidding process is expected to begin next month.
Construction will start in early 2021, with the goal of having the project completed by 2023.
The second and third phase of Yaqui Square will possibly include high-rise construction with retail, office and residential space, Gregory said. There will also be parks.