KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A groundbreaking ceremony on Friday marked the start of construction on the second phase of a low-income rental community in East Kapolei. The $57 million project includes 188 residential units and a community center in the Kooloaula development by Mutual Housing Association of Hawaii.
"These units are really nice. They're very comparable to market-rate condominiums that you see in the area," said David Nakamura, executive director of Mutual Housing Association of Hawaii. "We really feel that the families, we should have communities that don't have the stigma of public housing."
The homes will look similar to the ones in the first phase which opened two years ago. Roughly 10% of those units went to families from transitional homeless housing.
For Phase II, individuals and families will have to earn less than 60% of the Area Median Income. For a family of four, that would be $57,480.
"They're typical working families here in Hawaii just trying to make ends meet, and we quite often see them doing two or three jobs, both parents working just trying to make ends meet," said Nakamura.
The demand for affordable housing is extremely high, but these types of developments face many challenges.
"Financing for these kinds of projects are very difficult," explained city managing director Roy Amemiya, Jr. "It involves grants, tax credits, lenders, developers that are willing to shave on their profits."
More than 18,000 rental units will be needed during the next five years for low-income households on Oahu, according to city officials.
"188 units is not going to solve the problem but to reach a thousand miles, you've got to do the first one and so this is a positive step in that direction," said Amemiya.
A lottery will be held at the end of this year for individuals and families interested in Kooloaula's new homes.