The town of Guadalupe–a neighborhood in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area–is home to 3,600 members of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. For many years, the tribe struggled to provide the same comprehensive services in Guadalupe available on the main reservation two hours south in Tucson. Additionally, the services in Guadalupe were housed in four dilapidated modular buildings and lacked the privacy and space to accommodate sensitive tribal services in a tight-knit community. In 2011, the tribe began to pursue funding for the new 36,719 sq. ft. tribal health and administration building called Itom Hiapsi, or “our heart” in the Yaqui language.
Travois worked with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe for a number of years on Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) development. The tribe had recently completed a LIHTC project in Guadalupe and needed to improve services not only for the nearby housing development but also for the entire Yaqui population in greater Phoenix. However, land and construction costs are higher in Guadalupe than on the reservation. In order to be able to construct a quality facility in this community, the Tribe needed to access an NMTC allocation to close a financing gap. Travois New Markets, LLC provided $9 million in NMTC allocation, and Wells Fargo provided the investor equity.
Itom Hiapsi now houses vital tribal services such as behavioral health, adult services, victim services, community, and adult education, senior services, facilities management, legal services, enrollment, health nursing, and Yaqui Education Services (YES). YES is a comprehensive education support service that provides funding to all levels of Yaqui students and scholarships for higher education. Before Itom Hiapsi, there was inadequate space for YES to tackle the truancy problem in the community. Now with the new facility, truancy has dropped by more than 60 percent.
The Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s Itom Hiapsi administration and health services building created 72 construction and 65 permanent jobs. The center supports over 1,200 Yaqui households with comprehensive education, mental health, and other tribal services. Many low-income members can now avoid the costly drive down to Tucson, and all Yaquis in the area now have a private, one-stop shop to take advantage of the tribe’s excellent services.