LIHUE — Kauai is one step closer to gaining more affordable homes.
The County Council gave a green light to the county clerk to sign documents to accept a loan that will improve the infrastructure for phase one of the Lima Ola affordable housing community in Eleele.
“The vision of Lima Ola is to be 100 percent affordable, it incorporates green features, pools to help keep a healthy lifestyle and encourages community,” said Housing Director Kanani Fu.
The $13 million Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund Loan will fund infrastructure improvements for the Kaumualii intersection at Mahea Road and will include grading, new roadways, a bus stop with shelter, drainage systems and utilities and a park and multi-use facility.
Construction is slated to begin early next year.
When completed, the community will add 550 affordable housing units to 75 acres of land in Eleele, with phase one containing 38 single-family homes and 111 multi-family dwellings.
The acreage was purchased by the county in 2010. Plans for Lima Ola were completed by 2017.
In June, the Housing &Finance Development Corporation Board approved a loan of up to $13 million.
Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura asked how the County Housing Agency was proposing to ensure the units remain perpetually affordable and whether the county is proposing lease holds or fee simple.
Fu said at this time it’s premature for the CHA to make that decision.
“Well, fee simple means that it won’t be affordable forever,” Yukimura said.
Fu said there are ways to create permanent affordable housing, but they’re not at that point.
“When the land was deeded to us, it came with a restriction that only affordable housing could be built,” she said.
Council Vice Chair Ross Kagawa said he supported this project. He said he can remember when house prices were relatively low and when you go for a drive through Westside neighborhoods, you would see local families.
“That is why I put my support before the Land Use Commission because the actual results when you go on the roads are all locals,” he said.
It’s all about housing for local families, Kagawa said.
The Council approved unanimously to approve the acceptance of the loan.
The terms of the loan is 15 years with an option to extend no more than five years and the state of Hawaii will pay the 3.5 to 4 percent compounded interest rate annually.
Councilmember Arthur Brun, who lives on the Westside, said they’re still suffering from Hurricane Iniki in 1992.
“This is a big project for us and we’re excited,” he said.
“All of the local young families when I go to youth sport events, they’re all for it. They want to stay on the Westside, they want something cheap that’s affordable and they’ve got kids and we’ll find a way to get kids across safely,” Brun said.
Bethany Freudenthal, crime, courts and county reporter, can be reached at 652-7891 or firstname.lastname@example.org.