KILAUEA — The leadership at Permanently Affordable Living (PAL) Kaua‘i decided at a January meeting to give up on plans to purchase a 14-unit Kekaha apartment building.
“We did everything we could to arrange for funding, but we just didn’t have enough money to make it work,” said Jim Edmonds, founder and president of PAL.
But just 10 minutes after this meeting, the project got a second life when Edmonds received a timely call from a friend about a potential donor. Apparently, a couple that owns property on Kaua‘i expressed interest in supporting affordable housing.
“I told him if they want to help with affordable housing, the fastest and cheapest way would be to help us close on this project,” said Edmonds. “We can preserve 14 affordable units.”
The organization met virtually with the couple a few days later and made such an impression that the pair offered an anonymous gift of $5 million, 25 times more than any donation they had received from a single donor previously.
“It was not just the affordable housing but also our values and approach that resonated with them,” said PAL Community Relations Director Ka‘iulani Kauahi, who emphasized the organization’s focus on sustainable-living solutions.
Four hours later, the nonprofit had $5 million in its account, and the Kekaha project was back on.
PAL closed escrow on the Kekaha project Monday, and now officially owns the building, preventing what could have been a huge loss for the building’s current tenants.
“Somebody would have bought it and immediately raised the rents dramatically,” said Edmonds, who worked in real estate before entering the nonprofit world. “Then they would have CPR’ed (condominium property regime) the complex and sold out the units for $450,000 each. I knew that would have happened. I would have done that 15 years ago.”
Founded in 2018, PAL’s mission is to provide homes and sustainable-living solutions within reach by developing and rehabilitating homes using innovative construction techniques and sustainable-housing practices to lower the cost of living.
In Kekaha, the organization plans on keeping the rents down while implementing sustainable-living programs, like raising donations for a shared electric vehicle for residents, replacing the wastewater treatment system and upgrading the electric system.
The Kekaha building was purchased for $3 million, according to Edmonds. He expects that the rest of the donation will go toward sustainability programs and other projects, like an in-house construction company, which will help the organization keep building costs down.
On the other side of the island, PAL is currently working on an 11-unit project in Kilauea and a 17-unit project in Waipouli co-developed with Habitat For Humanity that contains two-story housing units with eight duplexes and a single-family residence.
The Kilauea project will feature single-family homes that would cost about $450,000 to build, according to Edmonds. They recently received $1.3 million in low-interest loans to fund infrastructure in the Kilauea project.
The nonprofit will sell homes to those making up to 140% of the area median income — calculated on Kaua‘i to be $130,800 a year for a family of four, according to the Kaua‘i County Housing Agency.
If those loans could be forgiven, Edmonds says, they would be able to lower the cost of the homes in Kilauea by $70,000 to $100,000 each.
Though COVID-19 makes predicting construction time difficult, Kauahi hoped that the Kilauea, Kekaha and Waipouli projects could all be completed by the end of 2022.
Guthrie Scrimgeour, reporter, can be reached at 647-0329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Garden Island