Benioffs donate 282 acres to Hawaii Island nonprofit


WAIMEA – The Hawaii Island Community Development Corp., a Hilo-based nonprofit organization, announced Monday that it has received a major land and cash donation for affordable housing at Ouli in North Hawaii.

The gift by Marc Benioff, CEO of the software company Salesforce, and his wife, Lynne, includes 282 acres solely for residential use by low- and moderate-income households.


According to a press release announcing the donation, the project is intended for self-help housing, turnkey single-family-for-sale housing and potentially low-rise multifamily housing. It will include other facilities such as parks, community spaces and open space.

Development will begin with an initial 43-unit Self Help Affordable Housing project at Ouli. The gift from the Benioffs also includes an additional $7 million to facilitate site planning and infrastructure development. It follows an earlier $1 million gift to HICDC to enable the organization to expand its capacity to help the community in other ways.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to create affordable housing for the community. The need is huge in Waimea with 30% of the community renting and 10% of those renters paying over 50% of their income for rent. That’s scary and simply not sustainable,” HICDC Executive Director Keith Kato said in the press release. “We are deeply thankful to Lynne and Marc for all the families this project will help.”

Since its founding more than 30 years ago, the HICDC has developed nearly 900 affordable housing units on Hawaii Island, including working with over 380 self-help builders to complete their homes through projects in Kohala, Kawaihae, Kailua-Kona, Pepeekeo, Panaewa, Keaau, Hawaiian Paradise Park and Mountain View. This includes 40 self-help units which abut the donated Ouli property.

“Keith Kato and the wonderful team at HICDC have been supporting families in Hawaii with affordable rentals for seniors and self-help housing for decades,” the Benioffs said in the press release. “We are so thankful for the work they do on behalf of this community that we have been blessed to be part of for many years, and we are happy to be able to support it in this way.”

In a statement, Gov. Josh Green thanked the Benioffs for their generous donation.

“We need 50,000 affordable housing units statewide, not just to put roofs over our local people’s heads, but to keep Hawaii the home we all love and cherish,” Green said. “It will take all of us — government, nonprofit organizations and the philanthropic community — to house our residents. The Benioff ohana has developed an incredible track record of supporting major Hawaii island needs.”

The number of affordable units in the Ouli property will ultimately depend on how much water is available. For the first phase, 43 water commitments are anticipated.

The 282 acres can be accessed from Kawaihae Road by way of Waiula Drive, which also provides access to an existing county rental housing project.

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