Hawaii County Affordable Housing Projects to be Built on Former Unexploded Ordinance Sites

In a June 22, 2017 letter that Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim sent to J.C. King, Director of Munitions and Chemical Matters, ODASA(ESOH) he is asking the Army to “…change the direction of its Unexploded Ordinance Clearance Schedule and parcel out specific sites that are designated for affordable housing projects.”

Full Letter:

On behalf of the residents of Hawai’i Island, I would like to request the U.S. Army to change the direction of its Unexploded Ordinance Clearance Schedule and parcel out specific sites that are designated for affordable housing projects.

The State of Hawai’i is mandated to build 22,000 affordable housing units by the year 2025 and the County of Hawai’i has been actively seeking ways to meet its part of this mandate.  Approximately two (2) years ago, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was made aware of concerns of unexploded ordinances (UXO) in the Former Waikoloa Maneuver Area.

Since this notification, HUD has placed restrictions on new funding into this area, effectively stopping the development of four (4) multi-family, affordable housing projects that would provide desperately, needed housing for 1,564 families.  In addition, there are two (2) existing affordable housing projects (consisting of 108 families), that need to have their properties surveyed and cleared to eliminate any danger from unexploded ordinances. These are:

Proposed:

  • Kamakoa Nui (County of Hawai’i) 1,200 units
  • Plumeria at Waikoloa (JSM Enterprises) 200 units
  • Waikoloa Family Affordable (Gary Furuta) 104 units
  • Kaialulu O Waikoloa (Urban Housing) 60 units

Existing:

  • Waikoloa Gardens (Jack Hall Waikoloa) 24 units
  • Ke Kumu Ekaki (State Hawai’i Housing) 94 units

Again, I strongly urge your agency to parcel out these projects and schedule them for Ordinance Clearance work at the earliest date possible.  I cannot emphasize the importance of clearing these subject parcels so as we can help our citizens make this island a better place to live.

Please contact Neil Gyotoku of my staff at (808) 961-8379 if we can be of any assistance in resolving this important issue.

Sincerely,

Harry Kim, Mayor

Hawaii County Celebrates New Micro Units to Address Chronically Homeless

Representatives from social service agencies joined Mayor Billy Kenoi and Council Chair Dru Mamo Kanuha today for a ceremony to dedicate Hale Kīkaha, the County of Hawaiʻi’s newest housing project with 23 micro units to address a critical need in Kailua-Kona, particularly amongst the chronically homeless.

micro-unitsNumbers of homeless are increasing statewide. The January 2016 point-in-time count showed nearly 1,400 homeless people on Hawaiʻi Island, an increase of 10% from 2015. Of those people, about 500 were unsheltered in West Hawaiʻi.

“Our families who are homeless need a sense that they have a chance. They can believe that because they can sleep in a clean, safe place,” Mayor Kenoi said. “We’re creating a puʻuhonua, a safe haven, a place of refuge where people can walk around with dignity and respect.”

The $2.5 million Hale Kīkaha is on Pāwai Place in Kailua-Kona’s industrial area, adjacent to the area’s emergency homeless shelter. Hale Kīkaha will provide on-site wraparound social services to residents to increase their chances of success.

Kīkaha means to soar, and the name Hale Kīkaha represents the County’s hope for and commitment to the residents that will call the project home. Design and engineering work was done in-house. General contractor Kona-Kaʻū Construction and a number of sub-contractors completed the project in nine months.

The County recognizes that housing is a primary need, especially in West Hawaiʻi. The County has worked to address homelessness through the nationally recognized best practice Housing First model with a number of projects during Mayor Kenoi’s administration.

West Hawaii Emergency Shelter

West Hawaii Emergency Shelter

Recognizing the most immediate need, the County constructed the $1.8 million, 31-bed West Hawaiʻi Emergency Shelter and opened it in November 2010.

The Homes of Ulu Wini provides 96 units for families, a mix of transitional housing and affordable rentals for families with low-moderate income, or no higher than 80% of the area median income. Construction of the $23.7 million project’s phases were completed throughout Mayor Kenoi’s administration.

The Homes at Ulu Wini.

The Homes at Ulu Wini.

Kamakoa Nui offers affordable home ownership to working families along the Kohala Coast. The Kenoi administration restarted a previous attempt to build workforce housing in Waikoloa Village, and the first families were welcomed into their homes in 2013. To date, all 91 lots at Kamakoa Nui have been sold and 69 homes have been built. Construction continues on the remaining homes, which include six participants in a self-help housing program by Habitat for Humanity. Kamakoa Nui offers fee-simple home ownership to families between 100-140% of the area median income.

A home at Kamakoa Nui.

A home at Kamakoa Nui

In addition to County-built housing, the Office of Housing & Community Development administers programs to assist tenants renting existing housing. Over 2,000 people and families receive over $14 million in assistance every year through Tenant-Based Rental Assistance and the Housing Choice Voucher programs.

“We are measured not by what we do for those who have the most, we are measured by what we do for those who have the least,” Mayor Kenoi said.

First Families Welcomed Home To Kamakoa Nui – Workforce Housing Project in Waikoloa Becomes a Reality

Four families, first-time homeowners employed along the South Kohala coast, got the keys to their new homes at Kamakoa Nui today. Kamakoa Nui, a workforce housing project by the County of Hawai‘i, offers affordable homes with a goal of helping people live closer to work, allowing them to spend more time with their families.

Gerry Durante and Shyanne Parong get the keys to their new home from Hawai'i County Managing Director Wally Lau

Gerry Durante and Shyanne Parong get the keys to their new home from Hawai’i County Managing Director Wally Lau

A key ceremony and new homeowner celebration was held today at Kamakoa Nui featuring remarks by Managing Director Wally Lau, Housing & Community Development Administrator Stephen Arnett, and a blessing by Pastor Lani Larrua of Abundant Life Ministries in Waikoloa.

Managing Director Lau recalled a visit to the Kamakoa Nui site early on in Mayor Billy Kenoi’s administration. “We just envisioned at that time where the park would be, where the homes would be, where the families would be, where the children would be running around. For me and the mayor, it’s always been about healthy families and healthy communities.”

For Gerry Durante and Shyanne Parong, the two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment they were renting was fine until their second son joined the family three years ago. “We were interested in this project since the early stages. It’s been a long process, but we’re glad it’s done,” Parong said. “We finally have a place to call home.”

Fee-simple homes at Kamakoa Nui, priced between $235,000 and $350,000, are being offered to resident families with household incomes of no more than 140 percent of the area median income. For a family of four, that comes out to $97,440. Additionally, Habitat For Humanity will purchase four lots at Kamakoa Nui. This will allow families with even lower average monthly incomes to be able to afford homes.

A workforce housing project in Waikoloa had been a goal of the County’s since 2005. A previous attempt ended in litigation between the County and the contractor. In 2010, the project was reborn as Kamakoa Nui. The sitework, first model homes, and the community park were completed in 2011 with sales of new homes beginning in 2012.

The first four families at Kamakoa Nui are:
•    Cacoulidis ‘Ohana: Shayne, Purisima and Kijai
•    Corpuz ‘Ohana: Eliezer and Janice
•    Durante ‘Ohana: Gerry, Shyanne Parong, Shayden and Shaztyn
•    Spear ‘Ohana: Peter, Wendy and Shaniah

New Waikoloa Park Taking Shape

Hawaii County Housing Director Steve Arnett speaks at the opening of the new 12-acre public park in Waikoloa.

Built in conjunction with the new Kamakoa Nui Workforce Housing project, the 12-acre park already features a field large enough for a regulation soccer field and a youth baseball diamond. The project will also soon open a skate park being built by the community.