TOKA breaks ground on first market-rate rental housing development

The Tohono O’odham Ki:Ki Association (TOKA) celebrated a groundbreaking last month for Hanam Ke:K Phase 2 Market Rate Rentals, its first market-rate rental development on the Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona. The initial Hanam Ke:K phase included the development of 10 single-family homes.

(Groundbreaking photos courtesy of Team TOKA)

In this phase, TOKA is building 12 townhomes – divided across three buildings with four units each – in the Gu Achi District of the Nation. Gu Achi district lands are about 50 miles from the town of Casa Grande, AZ.

(Architectural rendering by Travois Design)

To mark the occasion, Tohono O’odham Veterans opened the ceremony by posting the colors. SuNigh Antone, a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation Youth Council (TONYC) and a representative of the Gu Achi District, sang a traditional song.

Featured groundbreaking ceremony speakers included:

  • Billman Lopez, Tohono O’odham Legislative Committee Chairman;
  • Kimberly Mull, TOKA Board Chairwoman;
  • Willard Anita, Gu Achi District Chairman;
  • Tommy Carlos, Gu Achi District Vice Chairman;
  • Loretta Lewis, Tohono O’odham Legislative Committee Housing Committee Vice Chairwoman; and
  • Edward Manuel, Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation.

TOKA is an award-winning developer with years of experience in creating affordable housing. TOKA is undertaking this new initiative to develop market-rate housing because it recognized an unmet housing need for professionals who do not qualify based on low-income guidelines.

The townhomes will be located in a close distance to the Archie Hendricks Sr. Skilled Nursing Facility and within close distance to several schools. Team TOKA said that without housing in this area, working professionals could have commutes of up to two hours each way (four hours total per day).

Team TOKA shared that no federal funds were used for this project; instead, TOKA is using a combination of federally-backed loans and investment funds. One of the unique features of the development is that the housing will be open to anyone with an affiliation to the Nation – those who live within the Nation or who are employed by the Nation. The units will feature Spanish Mission-style and/or colonial barrio details, covered patios and courtyards, in-unit laundry and spacious layouts.

Team TOKA said, “We feel like the best resource for self-sufficiency is through employment and other opportunities for our people. We are looking to be self-sufficient and create employment and economic development opportunities. This project and these rentals will be the first step in this process.

“The best way to help our own self-sufficiency is to help everybody – not being exclusive to our own tribal members. Allowing for a more open project base, we will realize jobs and other types of self-sufficiency. Being more open to serving the needs of everyone with ties to the Nation, whether they are members from other tribes or professionals providing their services on the Nation – providing housing services for all will help us serve the needs of our own people.”

Construction is expected to be completed in 2020. TOKA has a master plan with additional phases of housing and a recreational center hopefully coming to fruition in the future.

Travois Design is the architect for the development, and Senior Architect Adam Teefey is visiting monthly to monitor construction. Here are few of his photos from the groundbreaking ceremony:

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