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11 affordable homes coming to Kilauea

KILAUEA — A project that will create 11 affordable homes on Kaua‘i is underway.

Kauhale O Namahana, located across the street from the Kilauea post office, is the first new construction by Permanently Affordable Living Kaua‘i (PAL), which purchased the property in 2020.

The single-family homes, ranging from two to five bedrooms, will feature views of Namahana Mountain and the Kalihiwai Valley. A groundbreaking was held last week.

“We’re not permanently affordable housing, we’re permanently affordable living,” said PAL Founder and Executive Director Jim Edmonds. “We work really hard to get really nice houses to people who can then keep them.”

Edmonds touted the sustainable features of the development, including solar panels, edible landscaping, electric-vehicle charging stations, and possibly a shared electric vehicle.

The developers see these homes as a means of addressing the ongoing housing crisis.

“Families are being torn apart,” said Larry Graff, chief operating officer of PAL. “There’s more Hawaiians living in Las Vegas than in the entire state. And Kaua‘i is a more-intense version of whatever happens in the state in that regard. Multi-generational households are being torn away from their homeland. We want to bring them back and give them places to live.”

Between 2016 and 2020, some 40% of Kaua‘i renters paid more than 30% of their income on housing. Housing costs have only increased since then, from $628,333 for a single-family home in 2016 to $1.1 million in 2021, according to the Hawai‘i Association of Realtors.

The houses are value-engineered, with assistance from Habitat For Humanity, to be built as cost-effectively as possible.

Even so, the price of constructing housing on-island remains high, with PAL estimating that the 11 homes would cost about $5 million.

This construction cost means that, despite the nonprofit nature of the project, each home would still need to be sold for about $500,000, which Edmonds said is about half the market value.

PAL is in the process of creating its own construction company. It will be contracting out the work on the Kilauea project, which is expected to begin in the next few months. Homes could be finished and occupied by early next year.

“We’re going to come in here like a bat out of hell,” said Bill Chase, PAL construction consultant. “Fasten your seat belts.”

When completed, the homes will be offered to families making 120% annual median income or below — $112,100 for a family of four — with preference given to those already living and working in Kilauea.

Prospective buyers will be selected from the County of Kauai Homebuyers Program list.

In order to get on the list, first-time Kaua‘i homebuyers must register for Home Buyer Education classes with a HUD-approved education and counseling agency.

Hawai‘i Home Ownership Center offers this course and can be found here: www.hihomeownership.org/homebuyer-education-schedules.

Upon completion of the course, first-time homebuyers must submit a certificate of achievement and a Kaua‘i Resident Affordable Home Buyer Registration Form to the County Housing Agency to be placed on the Affordable Housing Waitlist.

Those on the list will be informed when affordable homes are for sale.

Putting their first project together was a long process for PAL, beginning with the purchase of the site, fundraising for overhead and construction costs, and working with the seller and other community partners to install the infrastructure.

“We don’t do it alone. From the seller of the property who gave us the price to make it possible, to the engineers who worked on the project diligently, to the good intentions of the county who have tried to work with us to expedite our request,” said Graff. “It’s a real community effort.”

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Guthrie Scrimgeour, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-0329 or gscrimgeour@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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