For the past 40 years, Kukui Gardens has provided a place to call home for low income families, fixed income seniors, and people with disabilities. As the need for housing in Hawai’i continues to rise, 200 people gathered today to celebrate the promise of a bright future for Kukui Gardens and to acknowledge the work that has been done to preserve this community.
United States Senator Daniel Inouye made a speaking appearance at the event; as did President and CEO of EAH Housing Mary Murtagh, Hawai’i Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona, State Senator Colleen Hanabusa, and House Speaker Calvin Say.
In recent years, this community has gone through a transition period and is now starting on a new phase of growth and prosperity. EAH Housing assumed ownership of 389 units on the property in 2007 and is currently overseeing a rehabilitation of these units and the surrounding grounds.
“Rental communities like Kukui Gardens are essential for the vitality of our cities. Now that EAH Housing has assumed ownership of the property, we will ensure that it remains a vibrant and healthy part of the community – a place our residents can be proud to call home. Hawai’i, like a lot of other states, has a critical need for workforce housing and EAH is proud to be a part of the team that worked to preserve these homes for the residents of Honolulu,” said Ms. Murtagh.
Just three years ago, EAH Housing acquired the property when it was at risk of losing its affordability. At today’s event, the many parties who worked with EAH to ensure that Kukui Gardens would remain a workforce community will be recognized, including the State of Hawai’i, The Hawai’i Housing Finance & Development Corporation (HHFDC), co-developers Devine & Gong, Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE), Kukui Gardens Residents Association (KGRA), Carmel Partners, original owners the Kukui Gardens Corporation, and financial partners Citi and Enterprise.
“We commend EAH and all the parties who cooperated to preserve the affordability of Kukui Gardens. Without the commitment of public and private organizations, along with the community, we would not have been successful in preserving this much needed affordable housing,” said Karen Seddon of HHFDC.
“Enterprise is very proud to be a part of the preservation and renovation of the 389 affordable homes at Kukui Gardens,” said Philip Porter, Vice President of Enterprise Community Investment, Inc. “Our mission is to create affordable housing opportunities in diverse communities. The Kukui Garden story is an excellent example of the type of housing Enterprise strives to help create."
Funding was pulled together from many different sources in order to purchase the 389 units at Kukui Gardens and preserve them as workforce housing. The Hawai’i State legislature contributed millions of dollars to purchasing efforts when it passed HB 667. Additionally, significant funding and resources were provided by Citi, who loaned and purchased bonds, Enterprise, the tax credit equity syndicator, and HHFDC which provided Hula Mae Bonds, Rental Housing Trust Fund Loans, equity for land acquisition, and a Tax Credit Assistance Program (TCAP) Loan.
“Commitment to affordable housing and community development is the reason Citi Community Capital was formed. The acquisition, preservation and renovation of Kukui Gardens will help build a better tomorrow for this community,” said Mark Dean, Managing Director for Citi Community Capital.
Located near Chinatown and Honolulu’s Central Business District, Kukui Gardens allows working families and fixed income seniors to live in the heart of Honolulu where they are close to their jobs and can easily access public transportation, shopping, and entertainment.
“This anniversary celebrates forty years of improving the lives of Honolulu’s hard working citizens by providing low cost housing options. Thankfully a team of city and state entities, private organizations, and community leaders were able to come together to prevent Honolulu from losing a much needed housing community,” said Chan U Lee of Devine and Gong.
Kukui Gardens was established in 1971 by Clarence T. C. Ching as affordable housing for community members to use as a stepping-stone to financial stability. The Liliha complex was privately owned and developed with loans guaranteed by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and multimillion dollar support provided by the Ford Foundation. The community was designed by the renowned architect Cesar Pelli, who went on to design prominent developments worldwide.
The 40th Anniversary event also commemorates the success of federal stimulus funds in action. Through generous support provided by the State of Hawai’i, HHFDC, Citi, Enterprise, and the Federal Government through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, EAH Housing is currently overseeing $18.5 million renovation project at Kukui Gardens. Approximately 130 local jobs have been created as the property’s 20 buildings, once a monotonous light gray are being repainted with softer, earthy tones and the sprawling concrete courtyards that formerly made up the common areas at Kukui Gardens are being replaced with lawns and trees.
“We are so excited about all the changes that are underway at Kukui Gardens. The future looks bright for our residents now that these apartments have been preserved for working families and seniors. The community will continue to flourish, as many generations of Honolulu residents will be able to call Kukui Gardens home,” said Carol Anzai, President of the Kukui Gardens Resident Association.