Houses, horses and home-cooked meals: Visiting clients in Arizona

Last week I had the opportunity to visit one of our clients in Arizona – the Tohono O’odham Ki:Ki Association (TOKA). Since I recently joined the Travois team in August, it was a great experience to observe Crystal Banks-Mann, assistant director of Travois Asset Management, as she helped TOKA to prepare for a state housing agency inspection.

When Crystal and I first arrived on the Tohono O’odham Reservation, we were amazed to see horses sauntering towards our car. Since we are both huge fans of animals — we couldn’t resist snapping a few photos.

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The purpose of the visit was to organize and prepare TOKA for a state inspection of the TOKA Homes 1 project, a rehabilitation project of 40 single-family units – and the inspection was very successful! Since the project was recently completed in 2016, I was impressed with the quality of each home and efficiency of the TOKA staff. (Read more about their superhero work here.)

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Stella Harvey, TOKA’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) specialist, walked with us during the inspection and offered some insight about what it’s like in her position.

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Stella said the most challenging part of the job is “having to know everything.” But even with the difficulty of the position, Stella affirmed that the most rewarding part of the job was “inside I know that I’m making a difference, [and that] makes all the difference in the world to me.”

She shared kind words about Travois staff members. When Travois comes to visit, Stella said, it feels like “we’re their only customer.”

Before Crystal and I left, we were lucky enough to try their traditional Indian tacos. The lunch was prepared in recognition of American Indian Day. I’m grateful for having the opportunity to meet Stella and the rest of the TOKA staff — and after trying the famous Tohono O’odham fry bread, I will make sure to visit again!

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