2015 was a landmark year for Travois, and we hope for many of you. We celebrated our 20th anniversary, and our clients had milestone achievements — most notably the highest pricing ever paid to a tribal project ($1.01!), an increase to the tribal set-aside in Arizona, and the first-ever award ceremony recognizing your hard work as affordable housing and economic development “Superheroes.” Oh yeah, and our hometown team, the Kansas City Royals, won the World Series!
None of this success would be possible without the incredible hard work of you and our staff. For example, our asset management team reviewed more than 11,000 tenant files, and our design and construction team oversaw the construction or rehabilitation of 612 homes and visited construction sites 139 times. Our LIHTC team steered 11 projects through closings with investors bringing $56 million in equity (money that doesn’t have to be paid back) to tribal affordable housing.
We were also happy to have played a role in expanding economic development opportunities in Indian Country. We were honored to assist the Chickasaw Nation apply for and receive a $20 million New Markets Tax Credit allocation this year — the first time a tribally-focused CDE received funding in two years.
Many of our partners have been recognized for their incredible efforts this year as well. The Fort Peck Homes II project, developed by the Fort Peck Housing Authority (FPHA) of Poplar, Montana, was honored as this year’s Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Award winner in the rural housing category. Spokane Indian Housing Authority and the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) projects, Spokane Tribal Homes #2 and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo #1, were recognized as “Best Practices” by The Office of Native America Programs (ONAP) for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and were featured on the home page of ONAP’s website. Coastal Village Region Fund (CVRF) successfully exited its NMTC transaction and created hundreds of jobs and millions in new earnings for Alaska Native fishing families. In addition, the Tohono O’odham Ki:Ki Association (TOKA), received an important honor: The Arizona Department of Housing’s Brian Mickelsen Housing Hero Award for Tribal Initiatives.
This special recognition highlights just a sliver of the incredible progress happening in Indian Country this year. We know so many of you work day after day not in search of praise but to improve the lives of your fellow tribal members, and we are honored to join you in that journey.
Every year we look forward to catching up with old friends and meeting new people at our conference. This year’s 15th Annual Travois Indian Country Affordable Housing & Economic Development conference was in New Orleans and was a celebration of all that we have jointly achieved over the last 20 years. More than 150 Indian Country professionals joined us for a week of training, networking, and discussions about the successes and challenges facing affordable housing and economic development stakeholders in Indian Country. We honored tribal professionals in 10 categories by recognizing their contributions to affordable housing and economic development in Indian Country. It was very difficult to choose from the many outstanding applicants, but we plan on continuing this tradition. We will send nomination forms soon. Let us know about someone who deserves special recognition. We will announce winners at our conference in Nashville in April.
We will remember 2015 for many “wins,” but we are motivated by the challenges that we still face. Many states continue to write Qualified Allocation Plans (QAPs) that penalize tribes or ignore the stark differences between urban and American Indian communities. We will work together to change this in 2016. We must also continue to work with our elected leaders to reauthorize NAHASDA, a vital resource for affordable housing, and continue to raise awareness of the incredible unmet need for affordable housing in Indian Country.
2016 is an election year, and it is critical that we continue the momentum and elect leaders who see the value of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) programs.
On a personal note, I am happy to have completed my master’s in business administration at the end of 2015. I was inspired and learned a lot and can’t wait to put it into action in 2016. My husband is also happy he won’t have to spend so much time alone with our three children in 2016!
We are honored to have partnered with you this past year and for the last 20 years to help you build your communities. Thank you. We can’t wait to see what 2016 brings.