County wonders where to build government-backed housing

LIHU’E — The county plans to apply in August for federal funds for home loans

or construction of affordable housing.

While the county’s Kalepa Village

affordable rental apartment complex in Hanama’ulu looks like the best site to

many county officials because of ready land for expansion there, County Council

members recently questioned why projects outside Lihu’e aren’t being

considered.

Once Census 2000 data becomes available, the County Housing

Agency in the Offices of Community Assistance wants to conduct an island-wide

housing survey, said Mattie Yoshioka, offices director.

That should

identify which areas of the island are most in need of the housing, she

said.

A portion of the federal funds must be used to assist lower-income

families and individuals, but the county hasn’t decided if affordable rentals,

home ownership programs or a combination are what’s most needed.

An

estimated $40 million is available through a program under the U.S. Department

of Agriculture. The amount applied for will depend on how many units the county

wants to build, said Yoshioka.

Aug. 15 is the application deadline, said

Ron Kouchi, County Council chairman.

For the federal fiscal year beginning

this October, the USDA is hoping to have $200 million in its budget for various

housing projects across the country, Kouchi said.

“We have other areas that

we are looking at,” including North Shore, Kapa’a and Westside locations to

support the proposed Kapalawai resort development near Waimea, said

Kouchi.

The federal funds are available for non-profit, for-profit and

governmental agencies, with different kinds of tax treatments and rating

systems depending on the group the applicant falls into, he explained.

The

county’s Kalepa Village and Pa’anau affordable rental apartment complex in

Koloa are both full.

At a recent council meeting, Ken Rainforth, CHA

administrator, said expansion at Kalepa Village may not take the form of 60 or

120-unit growth, a phasing schedule proposed earlier.

Each building holds

10 units, and instead of a phasing plan that would see six or 12 buildings

going up at once, the county may build fewer new buildings while assessing the

need to build more as the new ones fill up, Rainforth said.

Two or four

buildings may be enough to meet current needs, he said. The county knows

there’s a need for affordable rental housing on the island, but not exactly how

much, he added.

Councilmen Randal Valenciano and Jimmy Tokioka agreed that

new county rental housing may be needed more outside Lihu’e. And in order to

keep Lihu’e from becoming even more congested with traffic, housing should be

considered for Kapa’a, the North Shore and Westside, they said.

The last

statewide housing survey was done in 1997, Yoshioka said.

Staff writer Paul

C. Curtis can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or pcurtis@pulitzer.net

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