Kukui Garden Tenants Fear Shake-up With Deal to Preserve Affordable Homes

Carol Anzai
Carol Anzai

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- There are fears among low-income tenants at one of the largest affordable housing projects in Hawaii. The state has already stepped in to make sure no one gets displaced, but tenants are still worried they'll lose their homes.

It has been more than a year since tenants sealed a deal to preserve half of Kukui gardens. But they say they haven't seen any progress since.

The 22-acre affordable housing complex is now split in half. The state bought one side, mainland developer Carmel Partners bought the other.

To prevent anyone from becoming homeless, non-profit EAH Housing is supposed to build at least 200 more affordable units on the state-owned side. That way, those on Carmel's property have a place to go.

"They're not talking about developing units, and that's what the concern is. People are very uneasy, especially the elders because, no homes, where are they going to go?" said Tenant Association President Carol Anzai.

Time is ticking. Within the next three to five years, Carmel will transform its property into a mixed-use residential, retail and office complex. The affordable units will disappear.

"The Governor's office and EAH, please do your best to start these units because otherwise it's going to be so bad for people, so they have to push on it," said Anzai.

A push tenants say is critical, for the sake of preventing seniors and low-income families from losing their homes.

Calls to EAH were not returned Thursday. But a group involved with the battle to preserve Kukui Gardens, Faith Action for Community Equity, or FACE, says EAH has agreed to meet with tenants more frequently to address concerns.