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Work on senior housing facility to begin in 2022

A senior housing complex more than 10 years in the making will finally begin construction in Hilo next year.

Hawaii Island Veterans Memorial Inc. has secured funding to build a 92-unit housing facility — located on Kawili Street across from the lower end of the University of Hawaii at Hilo campus — in early 2022, said project chairman Bob Williams.

“This whole thing started with an environmental assessment that got approved in 2006,” Williams said.

“But then there was the meltdown in 2008 and nothing happened for a while,” he said, referring to the Great Recession.

The residential facility is only the first phase of a larger planned complex, Williams said. Ultimately, the final project will include a combined veterans’ center and community-based outpatient clinic.

However, Williams said that part of the project still requires a development partner. In any case, he said, the residential facility is the “biggest piece of the puzzle.”

Originally, the project was intended to include 110 units, but it needed to be downsized slightly after the cost of building materials increased, Williams said.

The housing complex will consist of four two-story garden-style buildings on a 5.6-acre lot. Each building has its own elevator and laundry facility, a walking path, dog park and community gardens. A fifth building will include a multipurpose room, fitness room and more.

Initial site preparation has been complete for nearly five years. Culverts, sewer hookups and a driveway have already been constructed, and the land necessary for the project was leased from the county for 65 years in 2018, at a cost of $1 per year, Williams said.

Housing will be available for low- to moderate-income seniors, with preference given to veterans or spouses of deceased veterans, Williams said. He added that the predicted median income for a tenant would be around $45,000.

“If we can’t fill the rooms we have with veterans or spouses, then we’ll start reaching out to other people in the community,” Williams said.

“This is housing that’s needed, right?” said Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy. “We’ve got a lot of kupuna and retirees in that age bracket who need housing.”

Lee Loy said she was relieved to see the project — which significantly predates her current term in office — finally reach fruition.

“This has definitely been a long haul for all of us, and I’m stoked for this and that our seniors are getting the help they need,” Lee Loy said.

Prospective residents will be able to apply at the county housing office when the facility is closer to completion. Williams said the project is scheduled to be completed sometime in 2024.

Williams said HIVM has received $45 million for the residential phase of the multi-stage project via grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation, private sources and more.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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