Bryan Schuler, vice president for housing development, has been helping tribes and tribal housing authorities to develop affordable housing projects for 12 years this month. He joined Travois in 2005 as the sixth staff member and has helped us grow to serve more than 85 tribal clients in 22 states over the years.
Bryan and the housing development team’s most recent project, which closed with an equity investor this month, brings Travois clients to an impressive milestone – 200 housing and economic development projects! (Check out our project map here.)
We’ve asked Bryan some questions about reaching this milestone, his time at Travois, and the future.
Q: What is one favorite memory from your 12 years at Travois?
A: My favorite memory is my first memory of working with Travois. My first day on the job I flew to Phoenix, AZ, to join up with David Bland on a road trip. The purpose of the trip was to visit two housing authorities that had Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) applications due to the Arizona Department of Housing the following week. I can remember visiting with both White Mountain Apache Housing Authority and San Carlos Housing Authority, meeting with the staff, and viewing/reviewing – for the first time ever! – a 500+ page LIHTC application binder. The time spent that week with David receiving firsthand on-the-job training helped lay the foundation for the level of commitment, dedication and intensity that I knew it would take to succeed at Travois.
Q: You worked with Travois founders David Bland and Marianne Roos for over a decade. What did you learn from them?
A: I’ve learned many things: I’ve learned to have passion for what you do. I’ve learned that passion and persistence will lead to success. I’ve learned that it’s ok to take risks. I’ve learned to adapt and be resilient when faced with challenges. I’ve learned to think outside the box and find creative solutions to solve problems. From all that I’ve learned, I hope that I can pass that knowledge along to not only my colleagues but to those that I work with and my own children.
Q: Your family has grown over the years. What’s new at home?
A: Coinciding with my 12-year anniversary with Travois is also my 12-year wedding anniversary (albeit just a few months off). Within these last 12 years my wife, Lindsay, and I have been fortunate to raise three beautiful and incredible children.
I am thankful for the opportunities Travois has offered me to provide for my family and spend time with them in Virginia. Cole (9) is my oldest and his passions are reading and soccer. Scarlett (6) is my baby girl whose beautiful smile and caring nature will melt your heart.
Beau (2, almost 3) is a complete joy and surprisingly a singing and dancing machine!
Check out the video below for a smile, guaranteed!
Q: What do you find fulfilling about helping tribes to develop affordable housing?
A: We put an emotional investment into each project and relationships formed during the process of a project. It “hurts” when a project encounters setbacks, but it’s an emotional high when a project succeeds. It is this balancing of highs and lows that leads to a true sense of fulfillment in what I do. I enjoy the challenge of bringing together tribes and investors for the common goal of providing housing and assisting an underserved community.
Q: You’ve played a key role in helping Travois clients to close 200 affordable housing and economic development projects. What advice do you have for tribes who haven’t undertaken a tax credit project yet?
A: Educate yourself on what makes a project succeed. Establishing a solid foundation is critical to development and operating success – both for LIHTC and for New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC). This includes taking an assessment of internal capacity (identifying needs, reviewing policies and procedures, assessing financial capacity, etc.) and partnering with knowledgeable professionals. Developing a tax credit project is not a singular process. It is a complex process that if structured properly can be your best asset for addressing your community’s needs. (Watch this video for more LIHTC tips from Bryan.)
Q: What are you looking forward to in the years to come?
A: I’m looking forward to new opportunities, new partnerships and new relationships. The last 12 years has allowed me to build a solid foundation to use as a platform for advancing Travois’ mission.