Leverage, leverage, leverage.
That’s what the chief executive of a hugely successful Arizona non-profit told Southwest tribal leaders who want to emulate Native American Connections’ track record of developing 18 different locations in Phoenix and seeing 20,000 Native people a year.
“The story of Native American Connections is leverage, leverage, leverage,” Diana Yazzie-Devine told the recent Southwest Tribal Leadership Conference held in Albuquerque. She described how leveraging—using available funds to attract more funds from outside sources—has been key in the development of multiple housing projects, all within close range of public transportation.
Some of the funding sources she uses include the federal New Markets Tax Credit Program, the regional Federal Home Loan Banks, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s section 202 program, local CDFIs (community development financial institutions), big commercial banks for construction financing, the Utah Reinvestment Corp., syndicators like Boston Capital, the HUD section 8 voucher program, and the federal Administration for Native Americans, among others.
“We’ve really learned how to leverage our projects and make them work financially,” she said. Housing nonprofits should also be creative in identifying sources. For instance, New Mexico nonprofits are in the Dallas district of the Federal Home Loan Bank System. But, they can also apply to the San Francisco district for money—and San Francisco has more money to dispense.
The group’s Native American Community Service Center was funded with three layers of financing, she said, including New Markets Tax Credits. The same is true for a host of other projects she detailed for the conference.
NAC was started in the 1970s by Native American men in recovery from drug and alcohol problems. Yazzie-Devine said the idea is to provide a “wellness envelope” for Indians. She gave a quick run-through of a dozen projects, and said three more are in planning or construction.
NAC runs Indian Rehabilitation, a long-term project that has helped 10,000 American Indian men to go through rehab.
Guiding Star is a project for homeless women. “Lots of babies have been born there,” she said.
Pendleton Court provides transitional housing.
Catherine Arms, near the Arizona State University, has 28 units of affordable housing. This is a $6 million project using CDFI and HOME money.
Stepping Stone Place provides affordable housing for HIV/AIDs residents, and uses HUD section 8 vouchers, subsidizing rents as low as $50 per month. It was financed with housing tax credits and Federal Home Loan Bank affordable housing programs, among others.
Whispering Palms has 20 units of housing, largely financed by housing tax credits.
Sunrise Circle has ten units of housing for people with mental llness. Sunrise Townhomes is a project of 1600 square foot detached townhomes. This provides an opportunity for formerly homeless people to become home owners.
Coral Canyon provides 70 units of multifamily housing.
Carefree on North Central is a senior facility with 35 units.
Devine Legacy is a green housing project, with 65 units located on a lot less than one acre.
Center Court apartments target homeless youth with 24 units of permanent housing.
Landmark Senior Living, funded by the HUD section 202 progam, provides 60 units of elder housing.