West Side affordable housing project tracks towards approval
LAHAINA – From Hilo to Waianae, Ikaika Ohana and UHC Communities have been building affordable, sustainable and healthy single-family and senior housing developments.
Their next stop is Lahaina, with a proposed 89-unit,100 percent affordable rental property, Kaiaulu O Kupuohi,187 Kupuohi Street at Lahaina Business Park.
What is affordable?
At a County Council, Affordable Housing Committee meeting held in Lahaina on July 24, Douglas Bigley answered that question in a power point testimony.
“The affordability levels are 30 percent, 40 percent and 60 percent of area median income,” he advised.
Potential monthly rent limits were cited by the developer, as follows: “A one-bedroom goes from $443 to $992; a two-bedroom from $511 to $1170; and a three-bedroom from $572 to $1,333.”
It was one of those, “Is this too good to be true moments?”
Bigley is the director/president of the Ikaika Ohana (ikaikaohana.org) and the chief executive officer of UHC Communities (uhcllc.net).
UHC is a Bigley family-owned company, with a goal of developing affordable, sustainable housing benefitting communities and stakeholders.
The website for Ikaika Ohana describes itself as “a nonprofit affordable housing developer, social service coordinator and asset management company working with a vast network of industry partners in Hawaii to develop and maintain award winning multi-family and senior communities throughout the Islands.”
Bigley is proud of his base.
“Our entire portfolio has no market rate housing in it. We only do affordable housing. In fact, the only affordable housing we do is below 80 percent area median income,” he told the Affordable Housing panel.
The package is more than just walls.
“Every site we do, including this one, will have a community center; and that community center is used to provide services; and the services that we offer aren’t limited to generally the community that we’re in. They are usually made available to the surrounding community as well.
“It is generally our philosophy that housing is the anchor for the community; so therefore, the footprint of the site can be larger by providing outreach and services to other people,” Bigley said.
Mayor Michael Victorino supports this West Side project.
At the meeting on the 24th at the Lahaina Senior Center, Lori Tsuhako, Director of Department of Housing and Human Concerns, spoke on the Mayor’s behalf.
“This project accomplishes a lot of what we need in our community. It’s considered an infill project, which means it’s being built someplace where we’re not having to bring all the infrastructure in. It’s a rental project that’s addressing folks who earn below 80% of median income, which is what most of the housing needs’ surveys have told us is a need here and, in particular, West Maui.”
Additionally, Tsuhako acknowledged, “He (Bigley) has been able to use the initial investment of county funds and leverage those funds to attract funding from other sources, so that the County is paying a small portion of funding for this project in its total.”
Bigley detailed the dollar and cents arrangement before the panel.
“Our total ask now to get all 89 units from the county is $6.3-$6.4 million, which represents 11 percent of the total capitalization of the project, and the rest of the money is coming from other sources – from federal and state sources and the private sector.”
Public testimony was mostly positive; however, there were questions and safety concerns about potential traffic congestion voiced at the meeting.
The Lahaina Business Park has only one entrance in and out the intersection of Kupuohi Street and the Keawe Street Extension.
Mike Jucker is a business owner at 151 Kupuohi. He submitted written testimony as well as appeared before the council committee.
“Yes, neighbors up here are worried on how a 179-parking stall development will impact the already congested area up here.”
Jucker offered four possible measures to address the situation: 1) Construction of an additional entry/exit; 2) Install a round-about; 3) Put in a traffic light; or 4) Wait-it-out until the northern terminus of the Lahaina Bypass is built.
Whatever, Bigley is offering matching funds to mitigate the situation with the county. He doesn’t have an answer, he said. He’ll leave that up to the experts.
Blossom Feiteira’s words ran deep.
“I am a native of Lahaina, and I am going to be forthright and upfront here. Lahaina for the past 50-60 years, I’m 60-years-old this year, has literally been ignored by the county. Services and benefits afforded to Central and to South Maui and to North Maui, don’t come to Lahaina.
“This is your workforce in this community – from the homestead of Wahikuli all the way to Shaw Street. Just the people that live here, they work here. They bleed, and they sweat here. They’re the ones that need stuff like this; so, it’s time for the county, and I’m asking all of you to make that effort to address the need of this community and start with this project.”
The non-profit developer asked the Affordable Housing Committee to refer the matter to the Economic Development and Budget Committee for consideration of a budget amendment to provide additional funding from the County Affordable Housing Fund for this project; and the request was approved by a unanimous voice vote.