Sunday, March 03, 2024|
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More than $17 million in Hawaii County funding is slated for seven planned affordable housing projects.
Under a bill currently pending discussion by the County Council, $17.3 million will be distributed via the county’s newly formed Affordable Housing Production Program between a series of projects in East and West Hawaii to create 1,176 new affordable housing units.
The funding allocated to the seven projects largely will be used for construction costs or site acquisitions, with allocations ranging from $300,000 to more than $5 million.
Those allocations include:
— $5.5 million to Mental Health Kokua to acquire the Manago Hotel in South Kona for a planned 72-unit development;
— $5.4 million to the Office of Housing and Community Development for infrastructure development to add another 643 units to the Kamakoa Nui subdivision in Waikoloa Village;
— $3 million to the Ho‘omalu at Waikoloa project for construction of 229 planned units;
— $2 million for the construction of the 140-unit Na Hale Makoa subdivision in Waikoloa;
— $824,559.46 to the Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation for construction of the 90-unit Hale Ola ‘O Mohouli development in Hilo;
— $300,000 to Hale ‘O Hawaii for the construction of a single-family residence at University Heights in Hilo;
— $300,000 to Hale ‘O Hawaii for the construction of a single-family residence on Ali‘i Street in Volcano.
According to a tentative project timetable presented at a Nov. 15 council meeting, construction of all of the projects is expected to begin at some point in 2024, with the exception of the Hale Ola ‘O Mohouli development, which is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2025.
During that meeting, county Housing Director Susan Kunz said she expects it will still be “a couple years” before anyone can move into any of the units.
Kunz said 845 of the units being funded by the program will be rentals, while 327 will be for sale — the remainder of the units are manager units.
The bulk of the units will be targeted toward residents making 60% of the area median income, although nearly all of the for-sale units will be aimed at those making between 120% and 140% of the area median income.
Because of the lengthy process of standing up the Affordable Housing Production Program, this round of funding consists of two fiscal years’ worth of appropriations. Future rounds of funding will therefore only consist of single-fiscal-year allocations.
Hilo Councilwoman Jenn Kagiwada noted at the Nov. 15 meeting that the vast majority of the funding is being allocated to West Hawaii housing projects — the exceptions being partial funding for Hale Ola ‘O Mohouli, and a pair of single-family residences. She urged Kunz to consider spreading the wealth in future funding cycles, citing an “explosion” of homelessness in Hilo.
“Some of the time, what limits my ability to (distribute funding) is not having applications from that district,” Kunz said, adding that her office will work with East Hawaii developers to encourage them to participate in the program in the future.
According to an OHCD report, 217 new affordable housing units are anticipated to be completed in 2024, with another 650 expected to be completed in 2025 and 2026.
A 2019 Hawaii Housing Planning Study found the county will need to develop 10,796 affordable housing units by 2025 to meet the community’s needs.
The bill allocating the funds has not passed the council yet. Final reading on the measure is scheduled to take place at the council’s next meeting, which has not yet been scheduled.
Email Michael Brestovansky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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