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5 get new homes, just in time for Christmas

‘ELE‘ELE — The Friday-morning misting rains provided a perfect backdrop for the five affordable homes that were turned over to their owners at the ‘Ele‘ele Iluna neighborhood during a key-passing observance by Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity.

“Two of the five new homeowners are already moving in,” said Milani Pimental, Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity executive director, noting that Devin Frasco Rull and Taylor Azeka already had their belongings in their cars, ready to move in as soon as they received the keys to their homes.

With the blessing and passing of keys Friday, the Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity has provided 218 homes to Kaua‘i families since starting in Anahola with its Five Homes in Five Days campaign.

Receiving the keys and assorted gifts to celebrate their new homes were the family of Andy and Chelise Schmidt, Drew DesMarais and Kehealani Aqui, Devin and Kalei Frasco Rull and family, including Luna the family pet who was named for the ‘Ele‘ele Iluna neighborhood, Taylor Azeka and Norman and Ordean Bukoski,who all celebrated the completion of their sweat-equity agreements that served as down payments for their affordable homes.

The key presentations were performed in light of safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic during a small gathering of family members, community leaders and volunteers, including a contingent of Americorps volunteers who have been here since November, congratulating the new homeowners from afar.

Homeowners received welcome baskets, plants and artwork from the community, Koloa Surf Co. and Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity and its Homeowner Support Committee.

“With the majority of homes for sale on island being more than a million dollars, the home-buyers that Kaua‘i Habitat serves would not be able to pick up the phone, call a Realtor and purchase a home,” Pimental said. “We are honored to be able to provide truly affordable housing to the hard-working families on Kaua‘i.”

The new homes that were getting last-minute cleanups from one of the subdivision’s earliest homeowner are part of the ‘Ele‘ele Iluna subdivision that recently celebrated the installation of a state Department of Transportation stop light on Kaumuali‘i Highway to facilitate traffic movement in and out of the neighborhood and the main highway.

Support for the recently completed homes was provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture affordable mortgage loans program (USDA Rural Development Section 502 Direct Loans to Homebuyers), and a USDA Rural Development Section 523. Technical Assistance grant.

“It’s no secret that housing, let alone affordable housing, is hard to get here on Kaua‘i,” said Mayor Derek Kawakami in a statement read by Pimental. “That is why developing more affordable housing and opportunities for our local residents has been a key focus for our administration these past few years.”

In the shadow of the key-passing, work continued on more homes in the ‘Ele‘ele Iluna neighborhood.

“These homes will get inspected in the coming weeks,” Pimental said. “There are 13 more homes remaining before we complete the ‘Ele‘ele Iluna project. Once we get final inspection of the subdivision, we can move on to the first groups of homes in Waimea Huakai.

Waimea Huakai will consist of 32 affordable, single-family homes that will be built adjacent to a 35-unit affordable-rental property that was recently constructed by another developer and is fully occupied.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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