On December 17, 2012, Hawaii and the nation lost a political titan. Inouye passed away at age 88.
“He was an extraordinary leader that could move mountains with a phone call. His word was his bond. A tremendous politician, he was very well respected and almost idolized. Senator Inouye was a champion of social justice and served Hawaii and America exceedingly well. He was a friend to EAH Housing and a friend to veterans, families and affordable housing,” said EAH Housing Vice President Kevin Carney.
In 1996, when EAH Housing in partnership with Devine and Gong sought to preserve and acquire Kukui Tower and Kalani Gardens, Inouye played a critical role at the end of the negotiation process. Without his vast influence, both properties would have fallen into the hands of market-rate conversion and in time become unaffordable to families and seniors.
“We were honored to have been Senator Inouye’s ally and earn his trust. Without his support and vocal leadership, the Kukui Tower we recognize today would be a vastly different experience,” said Chan U. Lee, Principal of Devine and Gong.
EAH Housing considered Inouye to be a treasured friend, and was honored when he attended the 40th anniversary of Kukui Gardens, another EAH Housing community.
Inouye was the second longest-serving U.S. Senator in history and was the first Japanese -American to be elected to both houses of Congress. On June 28, 2010, Inouye assumed the position of president pro-tempore of the U.S. Senate, making him third in line for the presidency.
In addition to his place in the line of succession for the presidency, he was Senate Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations. This position gave Inouye enormous power to bring projects back to his state and create jobs. According to the New York Times, Hawaii ranked highest in per-capita federal earmark spending at $412 million in 2010, equivalent to spending $320 on each of the state’s 1.3 million people.
Up until his passing, Inouye worked to secure funding for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project. Two days after his passing, the Federal Transit Administration approved $1.55 billion in federal funding for the rail transit project, which supports the construction of transit-oriented development and mixed-used communities.
President Barack Obama acknowledged Inouye at his memorial service on December 21, 2012 as his “earliest political inspiration.”
We too at EAH Housing were moved by Inouye’s commitment to social justice, veterans and affordable housing. Senator Inouye was a true statesman. We are saddened by the loss of an American hero.