Honolulu’s Kewalo Apartments complex goes green

Officials from the Honolulu-based Hawaiian Community Development Board say they have completed more than $11.8 million in upgrades to a 49-year-old affordable housing complex in Makiki that now includes energy-efficient and cost-efficient features.

“It is extremely important that we preserve our limited stock of affordable housing in Hawaii, and in a way that provides an enhanced and high-quality living environment,” HCDB Executive Director Kali Watson said. “Kewalo does both.”

The Honolulu-based nonprofit’s mission is “supporting and promoting housing and economic development projects that benefit families living in the Hawaiian Home Lands communities throughout the state.” To that end, it purchased the 38-unit apartment complex with two 2-story buildings about two years ago with help from the Stockton, California-based Pacific Development Group.
Both buildings — 20 units in one and 18 units in the other — were built in 1966 near the intersection of Lunalilo and Kewalo streets in Makiki, according to City and County of Honolulu real property tax records.
The decision to purchase the apartments and rent them out to qualified tenants whose households earn 60 percent or less of the state’s median income was to “preserve a property that was in jeopardy of being lost to development,” Watson said.
In Hawaii, four-person households that would qualify for such housing would make $52,474 or less each year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Those residents living in the apartment complex before renovation work began were placed in hotel accommodations while construction took place, Watson said.
The nearly six-month renovation program began in June 2014 when the first apartment tenants were moved out. It consisted of installing new bathrooms, kitchens, and floor coverings; low VOC paints and sealers; efficient light fixtures; energy-efficient appliances; water-saving faucets; recycled materials; photovoltaic systems; and native drought-tolerant landscaping.

Watson said funding for the project included low-income housing tax credits awarded in 2012 from the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp., a division of the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism. The project also received $3 million from the state’s Rental Housing Trust Fund and a $3.3 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development loan.
Kewalo Apartments is the first of two sustainable affordable housing projects being renovated by Pacific Development Group in partnership with the Hawaiian Community Development Board. The second development, Halawa View Apartments, is slated to be completed in early fall.


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