LIHUE — Mary Rose Gallagher left the company of residents enjoying the vantage point of the second floor lanai area Tuesday to get closer to the dedication ceremonies at Kaniko‘o Phase II.
“I’ve been here for two years and I love it,” Gallagher said. “This project has made a difference in the lives of all those people on the lanai as well as other residents. We have become one big ‘ohana and we all help each other.”
Jade Waiale‘ale Bataad presided over the ceremonies that marked the opening of Kaniko‘o Phase II that adds 30 units to the Lihue affordable rental complex for senior citizens. With the addition of Phase II, Kaniko‘o has an inventory of 90 affordable units for seniors.
“Facilitating affordable housing opportunities for Kauai residents continues to be one of our top priorities,” said Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. “We are so pleased that more kupuna now have the opportunity to live in an affordable place that’s close to the services they need.”
Bataad explained Kaniko‘o is the name of the type of rain that taps on windows in this area of the island.
”It is also the tap-tapping of kupuna’s cane as they use the sidewalks to get around,” Bataad said. “This name is appropriate because it gives people a sense of place.”
Carvalho explained that Kaniko‘o offers renters one- and two-bedroom units tied together by an administration office and recreation hall.
“This is magic,” Carvalho said. “We have two-bedroom units where loved ones can live together.”
Gov. David Ige said he can relate to that because his mother-in-law is getting to the age where his family looks at living options for his relative.
“Housing is one of the most complicated challenges,” Ige said. “The kupuna have contributed much to make Hawaii a special place to live in, and it’s hard to travel and see kupuna who need places to live. This is a perfect kind of opportunity.”
Kanani Fu, director of the county’s Housing Agency, said it took collaboration between private and public sectors to get to the dedication.
“This is a special day,” Fu said.
She said when they first broke ground, the site was just five-and-a-half acres overgrown with buffalo grass and junk cars. Today, it has 90 units for kupuna.
“All of the partners in this project have a true sense of commitment to quality affordable housing and understand what it takes to support a thriving community,” she said. “It takes a village to build a village. We have five more projects in the works so I’m planning on seeing you folks, frequently.”
Carol Hernandez and her husband Art recently moved into one of the new units.
“We have been here just five days and I love it,” Carol said.
“Originally, we were in a studio in Koloa. Now, we have a nice one-bedroom that is close to everything — especially the movie theater.”
“Thank God,” Art said. “We’re done moving.”
Information: EAH Housing (808) 439-6286.