Rooms for rent: 3 affordable senior living units remain available at Lei Kupuna

  • Kamakana Villages. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — Public response to Kona’s newly added low-income housing at Kamakana Villages was overwhelming, with several prospective tenants left on the outside looking in following the lottery process.

While the 85 affordable family units are full up, three of the 85 units at Lei Kupuna, the senior housing project, remain available. All three are equipped with two-bedrooms and one bathroom. The vacancies exist, despite heavy interest that left several on a waiting list, because of the occupancy requirements that accompany them.

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Every unit at Lei Kupuna is considered affordable, and no one is eligible to live in any of them unless the household earns 60 percent of the average median income (AMI) or less. However, 15 units, including the three remaining vacancies, are part of a project-based voucher program involving the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — meaning they come with stricter occupancy requirements than the rest.

“Because there are HUD regulations that need to be met, that’s one of the reasons that the two-bedroom, Section 8 units are still available,” said Elizabeth Char, development officer with Michaels Development Company. “There are four or five layers of qualifications they need to go through to go into a two-bedroom, and that’s the challenge.”

Among those requirements are that senior occupants must be at least 62 years of age with an income level at 30 percent AMI or less and be U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals or possess eligible immigration status. A senior with a live-in aide can occupy the unit alone, but households without live-in aides require at least three people to qualify for occupancy, all of whom must be 62 years old.

Brandon Hegland, managing director at Interstate Realty Management Company, which oversees the property, said one exception exists. Due to a Hawaii law Hegland referred to as a “hanai law,” two seniors meeting all other requirements may qualify for one of the available units if they have custody of a child under the age of 18.

Neil Gyotoku, Hawaii County housing administrator, said the chance to occupy the three available units will be administered on a first come, first serve basis.

He added those who qualify for the voucher program would eventually be afforded the flexibility to move, transferring the HUD benefits to a new location after a certain period of time.

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Applicants may apply online via www.hawaiicounty.gov/online-services. Hegland said interested parties may also make inquiry by calling the Lei Kupuna office line at 342-1468.

Those interested should call soon, Hegland added, as an alternative plan allowing for a wider applicant field may be applied if qualified candidates for the project-based voucher program can’t be found.