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Blessing held for ‘Ele‘ele housing project

‘ELE‘ELE — Footprints of the first few buildings of the Lima Ola Supportive Housing Project were already in place as sprinkles from the rain over the Kalaheo plateau kept the red dust in check on Tuesday morning in ‘Ele‘ele.

“Mahalo, ancestors, for keeping the rain from falling hard,” said cultural practitioner Aletha “Aunty Puna” Kaohi, who officiated over the project blessing before about 50 people. And in lieu of huli ka lepo (groundbreaking), since buildings were already in place, Kaohi created the piko (umbilical cord) for Lima Ola, using the help of dignitaries.

Those dignitaries included Gov. Josh Green, Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami, Senate President Ronald Kouchi, Conrad Murashige of Shioi Construction and Kaua‘i County Housing Agency Director Adam Roversi, who emceed the proceedings.

“Addressing homelessness and creating more affordable housing in Hawai‘i takes compassion, leadership and united action from all aspects and organizations,” Green said. “I extend my deepest gratitude to all of our state and Kaua‘i county agencies and partners for your dedication and hard work which brings us here today, commemorating the Lima Ola Supportive Housing Project.”

The Lima Ola project is modeled after the Kealuala Supportive Housing Project on Pua Loke Street in Lihu‘e, which is intended to provide low-cost rental housing to residents experiencing homelessness or who are at imminent risk of becoming homeless.

Under this model, tenants receive on-site social services to assist them in getting back on their feet to prepare them to move to more permanent housing. While tenancy in supportive housing is not intended to be permanent, it also is not strictly time limited, as are “transitional” housing models.

Kaua‘i County Council Chair Mel Rapozo said Coach Dick Ueoka, said the secret is to “copy success,” and he invited Green to feel free to copy the Kaua‘i models.

A total of 24 units, studio and one-bedroom, will be built, with square-footage ranging from 240 to 400 square feet.

“When we broke ground for Lima Ola Phase One in 2020, all we could physically see on this entire 75-acre site was a lot of tall grass and red dirt. Yet we knew that one day we would see a place for our keiki to grow up, a place for our kupuna to thrive, a place for those struggling to find help, and a place for so many to finally call home,” Kawakami said.

“Today we are one step closer to seeing that dream become a reality. As housing continues to be a critical need throughout our island, we celebrate this huge leap forward today, and thank all involved for your hard work and continued efforts, which offer hope to our people.”

The project will include a community building that will include offices, a reception area and laundry facilities.

A combination of American Rescue Plan Act and state and local recovery funds, HOME-American Rescue Plan funds, and county housing development funds were utilized for the design and build of this project.

“We are grateful to our housing agency staff, Shioi Construction, HHFDC (Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation), all state and county partners, and especially our west side community for your continued commitment to creating affordable housing opportunities here on Kaua‘i,” Roversi said.

“The supportive housing model has been a great success in Lihu‘e, and we are now excited to see this project develop and thrive here in West Kaua‘i.”

Shioi Construction is the contractor for the $4.37 million project, which is anticipated to be completed during the first quarter of 2024.

During the groundbreaking for Lima Ola in November 2020, Kawakami planted a kukui nut tree as a symbol for what would become the largest affordable housing project the county had ever undertaken.

The tree was removed due to ground work that started on the project. The tree is currently 8 feet tall and in Roversi’s care.

The intent is that, one day, the tree will be replanted at the Lima Ola project site, where it will serve as a symbol of hope and resilience, and a reminder of the many hands that were a part of this project, and the many lives it will touch for generations to come.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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