Work progresses on senior housing, adult day care facilities

  • JEFF HANSEL/Tribune-Herald Board members and administrators of Hawaii Island Adult Care pose with a check from the Bank of Hawaii Foundation in front of the new building, which is under construction. Keith Kato, executive director of the ‎Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation; Roberta Chu, a senior vice president with Bank of Hawaii; Paula Uusitalo, former HIAC director; and Amy Honda, a Bank of Hawaii vice president.
  • JEFF HANSEL/Tribune-Herald Phase 2 of Mohouli Senior Residences has been completed and is fully occupied. Pathways are covered to allow residents to stroll and interact even on rainy days.
  • JEFF HANSEL/Tribune-Herald

    Hawaii Island Adult Care board members and administrators tour the new facility, which will abut Mohouli Senior Residences in Hilo, with Keith Kato, executive director of Hawaii Island Community Development. Phase 2 of Mohouli Senior Residences is complete and fully occupied. Phase 3 construction is scheduled to start this summer.

Mohouli Senior Residences in Hilo completed Phase 2 of construction and is fully occupied.

The senior community, intended to help residents age comfortably, safely and with help, when needed, is located on Mohouli Street above Komohana Street.


“We expect to be breaking ground on the third phase probably sometime this summer,” said Keith Kato, executive director of Hawaii Island Community Development Corp.

According to the Hawaii County Office of Aging, about 50,000 people on Hawaii Island are senior citizens. The demand for senior housing has been a focus of the development corporation, which is working to ease the shortage.

Phase 1 of Mohouli Senior Residences, which opened in 2014, includes 60 one-bedroom apartments. Phase 2, with 30 units, also is composed of one-bedroom units because “90 percent of our clients are one-person households,” Kato said. Phase 3 will include 92 one-bedroom units.

Kato said there already are about 140 people on the waiting list for those 92 spots.

“I don’t know where the end is,” he said. “Every time we put up another building, we get more applications than we have units.”

The development corporation will be seeking additional land because “this third phase is going to use up virtually the remaining site,” Kato said.

Rent at the housing complex for elderly residents is supported by subsidies from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is based upon residents’ incomes. The housing is intended for people who do not earn more than 50 percent of median income for the area.

Nearby, a new $9 million, 9,000-square-foot building adjacent to the senior living complex will house Hawaii Island Adult Care.

HIAC serves seniors who still live at home but are unable to stay alone while an adult son or daughter goes to work, or while an aging spouse runs errands.

HIAC is currently located on Rainbow Drive at the site of the former Hilo Memorial Hospital, which ceased hospital operations in the 1960s and is showing wear.

The new HIAC building on Mohouli will instead be co-located with Mohouli Senior Residences to give residents easy access if the time comes that they need structured activities during the day.

HIAC’s new building, which is expected to open this spring, is designed to be senior-accessible, with a covered entry so clients can get dropped off and get out of the car without getting wet during rain.

It’s licensed to serve up to 105 clients, although planners expect to generally serve about 80. About 65 clients per day use the current facility, said Executive Director Marcie Saquing. But that number is expected to climb.

“We have people who have been calling and saying, ‘I’m going to wait until you open your new building,’” she said.

But, she emphasized, folks better get signed up — because the waiting list is filling up fast.

Adult care during the day lets seniors take part in planned activities, such as exercise class and music, to help them keep physically and mentally active.

The new building includes a “wandering garden” that will have paved pathways so HIAC clients can get outside, interact with nature and have freedom to walk around. It will be protected with fencing and include resting spots so it will be safe for people living with dementia.

HIAC will become the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Adult Day Care Center when the new building opens. It’s a joint venture between HIAC and Hawaii Island Community Development Corp.

HIAC received a $50,000, three-year pledge from the Bank of Hawaii Foundation on Friday. But there’s much more financial need.

HIAC needs $150,000 to pay for furniture and equipment for a commercial kitchen. Donations can be made through Saquing at 961-3747, ext. 107.


Hawaii Island Community Development Corp. also is accepting donations through Kato at 319-2422.

Email Jeff Hansel at

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