Q&A: Executive Director Floyd Tortalita shares LIHTC development experience

Working for Travois, I have the opportunity to meet many hard-working and inspiring people, and I enjoy developing strong relationships with clients. I recently had the opportunity to interview Floyd Tortalita, executive director of the Pueblo of Acoma Housing Authority (PAHA).

You may recognize Floyd’s name: he was a winner at our 2017 Travois Superhero Awards during our annual conference in Austin, TX! Nominated for Housing Professional of the Year, Floyd has been a tireless advocate for affordable housing in Indian Country for more than 17 years.

PAHA’s first Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) development, PAHA LIHTC Homes #1, is building 30 new multifamily units. Guided by Floyd and his team, Travois Architect Taylor Higgins and the Travois Design team designed two twelve-plexes and a six-plex with traditional pueblo aesthetics. The project also includes a small community building centrally located from the three buildings.

There has been significant construction progress on the new units since February. Taylor has been on site each month monitoring the construction work in place, and it has been amazing to see pictures as it progresses.

We are so excited about the project and wanted to talk with Floyd and get his insider’s perspective. Here is what Floyd had to say:

Q: How is the project progressing?

A: With this being our first LIHTC project, the process is moving along smoothly. There has been a huge learning curve for the PAHA, but we have a very capable staff to carry the project forward.

(Pictured above: Melanie Keams (PAHA) and Krystal Vallo (PAHA).)

Q: What is it like to see the designs, renderings, and plans come to life?

A: The idea has been captured! It’s been exciting to see all of it come together, from when the idea was drawn on a napkin, to the construction drawings, now to construction.

Q: How has the community responded to the future homes being built?

A: The project has been well received by the community, and there has been a lot of excitement from potential occupants of the units. It has been said that it looks like a pueblo village. Aesthetics is very important to PAHA — we want all housing projects to be culturally relevant.

There has been an increase in tribal members coming to the housing authority to pick up and fill out applications.

The project site has received visits from the other tribal entities: The Hopi Tribal Housing Authority, the Governor and Lt. Governor from the Pueblo of Zia, and tribal leadership from the Pueblo of Laguna. All have expressed excitement for the project.

Q: How are you and the Pueblo of Acoma Housing Authority planning for the future?

A: We are already planning a ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of the LIHTC project!

As mentioned, the project has been a huge success. PAHA has discussed and is proposing similar projects, to not only include LIHTC dollars, but to also finance such endeavors utilizing IHBG funding, Section 184, USDA, and private resources to address the housing need for all community member regardless of income level.

The PAHA would like to further utilize Low Income Housing Tax Credit financing for future developments. Before the PAHA decides to proceed with future LIHTC dollars, we want to make sure Project #1 is feasible and can sustain itself.

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It has been a pleasure working with Floyd and his wonderful staff at PAHA. I will enjoy watching the progress and am excited for the ribbon cutting!

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