Frequently Asked Questions
Affordable Housing FAQs
Is the program rental or homeownership?
For the first 15 years, the housing units must be maintained as rental. You must decide in advance, but after that you can convert the units to homeownership units or keep them as rental units.
Can you use NAHASDA funding along with tax credits?
Yes, NAHASDA is an ideal source of funding in combination with the LIHTC program.
What kind of homes can you build?
You have complete flexibility. You can choose to build single-family detached houses, as most projects in Indian Country are designed, or you can choose garden apartments, small units for the elderly or disabled, or nearly anything else you have in mind.
Are there restrictions about Trust land or fee land?
No, either land status is acceptable in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program.
Can you include the cost of community facilities in a tax credit project?
Yes, in fact, we have designed some projects with some very creative community facilities. You just have to be reasonable in what you expect and you have to be able to maintain it once it’s been built.
Can you rent the homes to anyone you choose?
No, homes developed through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program can only be rented to families or individuals who qualify under the income guidelines. This is a program to serve tenants with incomes below 60 percent of area median income (AMI).
If my income goes up after I sign the lease and move in, can I still stay in the unit?
Yes, so long as there was no reasonable expectation that your income would go up right away.
Does my rent go up if my income goes up?
No, once you qualify to move into a unit, the rent you pay is the same as was originally set in your lease even if your income rises. However, the housing authority or tribe or whoever built the project can raise rents as their costs to operate the project increase.
But the increase in rent is limited and it is not tied to a tenant’s income. In fact, if the tribe or TDHE used NAHASDA funds in the project, some or all of the units may be subject to the “30 percent rule” in which the tenant’s rent can be no greater than 30 percent of his or her income.
Asset Management FAQs
Where can I find the current rent and income limits for my county and state?
Your state housing agency should have this information available on its website. To find the link for your state housing agency website, please visit our State Resource page.
Income and rent limits change annually and are usually published sometime in February or March. You must begin using the new income and rent limits within 45 days of the date they are published.
If you have any problems finding your current rent and income limits, please contact the Travois Asset Management team for assistance.
How do I begin the process to qualify a tax credit household through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program?
The first step is to have an application form that asks specific questions about all the types of income and assets a household may have.
The answers to the questions on the application will allow you to determine what additional third-party verifications and self-certifications you need to determine the total gross household income.
Is there a specific lease form we must use for our Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) homes?
There is no specific lease form. However, the lease term must be for a minimum of six months. A one-year rental term is recommended.
There is also language relating to the lease that must be included in the lease itself or in a lease addendum. This language relates specifically to the tax credit program.
You can check with your state housing agency or your Travois Asset Management team member to obtain the correct language.
Who has to sign the tax credit application, Tenant Income Certification (TIC) and other related documents?
All household members who are 18 years old and older must sign the application and the TIC. Some states only require the head of household to sign the lease; however, all household members 18 and older should sign the lease addendum that describes the requirements of the tax credit program.
There will be other documents that need to be executed by household members who are 18 and older, depending on their employment status and other income-related matters.
Does the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program have rules regarding how much rent should be charged to each household?
The Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program does not have rules regarding how rent is to be calculated. The tax credit program has maximum rent limits which establish a limit on the gross rent that can be charged to a household. Gross rent is defined as total tenant paid rent plus utility allowance.
What types of developments require architectural services?
Investors will require that all new construction developments have full, sealed architectural plans prior to closing.
Some rehabilitation developments can use existing as-built plans in addition to a thoroughly defined scope of work. However, rehabilitation developments that will include any structural or major mechanical/electrical/plumbing (MEP) systems alterations will also be required to have full architectural drawings that define the changes and confirm that all changes will be structurally sound and meet current code requirements.
Some states will also require preliminary architectural drawings and certification letters signed by an architect at the time of application.
Please feel free to discuss your state and/or investor’s specific requirements regarding architectural services with your Travois team member if you are uncertain of the need for an architect on your project.
When and why are regular work-in-place inspections required?
All developments require construction monitoring. Investors require some type of regular (typically monthly) visit to ensure that construction takes place according to the plan and scope of work agreed upon during closing. Investors also rely on this oversight to approve and issue construction draw requests.
The construction monitoring should be provided by a third party consultant approved by your investor. This monitoring should not take the place of regular oversight by your architect and/or construction manager.
Contact us for more information about Travois Design’s certified building inspectors.
Are architectural and inspection services allowable costs under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program?
Yes, these services can be included in your budget and are often called architectural services and architectural supervision. You will want to work with your Travois team member to determine a reasonable budget for these costs.
Some states have restrictions that limit the amount of funding that can be allocated to these services so be sure to review your state’s requirements with your Travois team member.
What is the typical size of a low income home?
We have found that in order to keep construction costs low but also to provide a comfortable living environment, that the following sizes tend to provide a good balance:
- 2 Bedrooms | 1 Bath – 1,000 square feet
- 3 Bedrooms | 1.5 or 2 Bath – 1,200/1,300 square feet
- 4 Bedrooms | 2 Bath – 1,400/1,500 square feet
Economic Development FAQs
What can New Markets Tax Credits do for me?
New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) financing fills critical gaps in project budgets. Whether you are developing a nonprofit community facility or a for-profit manufacturing plant, NMTCs are designed to finance 15 to 20 percent of your project’s costs.
For example, if your tribe is building a $10 million administration complex, and you have $8 million in hand, Travois’ NMTC allocation can provide the last $2 million.
Or, if your community is negotiating a bank loan to build a $20 million hotel, and you want to decrease your loan-to-value ratio, NMTCs can raise $4 million in equity-equivalent financing to help the tribe obtain the best bank terms possible.
What type of developments can Travois New Markets use NMTCs to finance?
There are a few restrictions on our use of New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC). We cannot finance casinos, race tracks, liquor stores, massage parlors, farms or financial businesses.
Beyond that, however, the possibilities are virtually limitless. We are interested in a wide range of developments, including tribal government buildings, schools, mixed-use and senior housing, manufacturing and infrastructure. Travois is actively seeking non-profit/governmental partners, for-profit tribal business entities, Indian Country lenders and potential NMTC investors to partner with us on high impact projects.
What types of organizations can Travois New Markets work with?
Travois New Markets can work with individual tribal members, tribal governments, tribal housing authorities, tribal economic development corporations, joint ventures between tribes and non-Native entities, Alaska Native Regional Corporations and nonprofits serving Native Americans.
How does Travois New Markets’ NMTC financing work?
Travois New Markets creates a financing product that provides high flexibility and low costs to Indian Country developers. We combine equity from New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) investors with loans from public and private sources.
We use these combined funds to make loans to projects with the following characteristics: below-market interest rates, seven-year interest-only payment periods and a flexible transfer of a significant portion of the loan package to the developer or tribe after a seven-year compliance period.
Can I use NMTCs in conjunction with other government economic development programs?
Yes. Federal loan guarantee programs like the BIA loan guarantee can be used with New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs). State or federal economic development grants and loans can be combined with NMTC equity. Tribal funds or intertribal cooperation funding programs can be blended with NMTC financing.
What is Travois New Markets’ minimum project size?
Travois New Markets prefers projects with a minimum development cost of $5 million.
If I am already working with a lender or have a source of funds for my project, is it too late to seek NMTCs?
No. Travois New Markets will work with you and the other organizations involved to use New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs) to help the business concept succeed in a way that benefits the community and helps catalyze positive change.
If I have a project concept but have not sought another source of funds, can Travois New Markets help me build a financing package?
Yes. Please fill out the online project description form or call our team at 816-994-8970 to begin the economic development financing process.
How do I know if my project qualifies for NMTCs?
Give us your project address or the nearest intersection to your project site, and we can determine the program eligibility of the site. Please fill out the online project description form or call our team at 816-994-8970 with the details.
If I approach Travois New Markets with a project opportunity, how will you evaluate it?
Travois New Markets evaluates projects based on two sets of criteria: economic viability and community impact. Please fill out the online project description form or call our team at 816-994-8970 to give us an overview of your project.
If it fits with our goals and you are interested in pursuing New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) financing, we will gather information on the project required for a two-step approval process.
First, our Investment Risk Rating committee will assign the project an objective score (contact us for details on all scoring criteria) based on the financial prospects of the project. If the IRR committee approves of the project, it will move on to the Community Impact Rating committee.
The CIR committee will assign a score based on the community’s characteristics as well as the business’ attributes. This score will determine whether the project will advance for approval by the full Travois New Markets Advisory Board.
Environmental Services FAQs
What is a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA)?
A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is an environmental report used for most real estate transactions, residential or commercial. The guidelines for a Phase I ESA have been developed by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM International) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
A Phase I ESA consists of an environmental records review, site visit, geological review, and a land owner interview. A Phase I ESA is also an investor checklist requirement for all Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) transactions, and it is more frequently a requirement for submittal of an LIHTC application to a state allocating agency.
Contact us for more information about our environmental services.
What information do I need to provide before work is started on my Phase I ESA?
General information about your site is very helpful. The environmental professional conducting your Phase I ESA may ask:
- Is it a rehabilitation or new construction project?
- What is the general acreage?
- If the project is a rehabilitation, what age are the existing units or buildings? Were there any prior rehabilitation projects?
- Do you have any concerns about environmental hazards like lead-based paint or asbestos?
How long does it take to complete a Phase I ESA?
It depends on the project, but a general time frame is anywhere between two weeks and one month.
What is the difference between a Phase I ESA and a HUD EA?
There are many differences between these two reports, but the main thing to remember is that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Environmental Assessment (HUD EA) focuses on what type of impact the project will have on the environment.
A HUD EA is required by the federal government, and if federal money (like NAHASDA) is involved with your project, then a HUD EA will likely be required.
A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is a requirement of investors through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program and New Markets Tax Credit program. State allocating agencies also often require them to to submit an LIHTC application.
Investing in LIHTC projects FAQs
A typical Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) development has at least some hard debt. This results in at least some foreclosure risk and rents that must support the amortization of that hard debt. Do Travois developments have hard debt?
No Indian Country developments underwritten by Travois have “hard” debt. As a result there is far less risk of foreclosure and considerably lower rents. The tribal sponsor provides “soft” debt for each project.
Typical LIHTC developments have at least some rent-up risk. Projects must compete with all other similar developments in the marketplace for eligible households. Are your projects subject to the same risks?
Most developments underwritten by Travois have a waiting list of eligible households that far exceeds the number of units to be developed. As a result, there is very little rent-up risk and few vacancies.
Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) developments outside of Indian Country carry risk of operating losses from non-payment of rents. How do tribal projects maintain operations?
All developments underwritten by Travois have rental assistance in the form of a Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) agreement entered into by the sponsor and generally guaranteed by the tribe. As a result, most developments have the full financial support of the tribe.
LIHTC developments undertaken by inexperienced housing sponsors, especially small nonprofit corporations or small local housing authorities, can result in projects being improperly managed, thus carrying higher risks than projects undertaken by experienced developers/managers. Do your projects carry the same level of risk?
All developments underwritten by Travois have sponsors with substantial operating experience. This experience is typically that of operating 1937 Housing Act units under supervision and oversight from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The requirements under 1937 Housing Act regulations, including tenant certification, income verification, asset management, record keeping and financial management, are in most respects similar to or exceed the requirements under Section 42.
We choose sponsors that have a good track record of operations with HUD and have demonstrated capacity to operate under stringent rules and regulations and a demonstrated capacity to maintain units in good condition.