Benioffs donate another 158 acres to Big Island nonprofit

In this April 10 file photo, Marc Benioff smiles as he makes his way to the podium for a speech during the groundbreaking ceremony for expansion of the Hilo Benioff Medical Center. (KELSEY WALLING/Tribune-Herald)

Philanthropists Marc and Lynne Benioff have donated more land to help increase the supply of affordable housing on Hawaii Island.

Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation, a Hilo-based nonprofit organization, announced Wednesday that it has received an additional donation of 158 acres from the Benioffs for affordable housing at Ouli in Waimea.


The newest gift by the Benioffs, who have a residence near Waimea, adds to the 282 acres they previously donated to HICDC in December 2023.

The new land donation, which is adjacent to the 282 acres, brings the total land given by the Benioffs for affordable housing to 440 acres.

The additional land had been held since purchase in a nonprofit for charitable use, awaiting a determination by HICDC as to whether it would be able to make use of the full acreage, according to a press release from the nonprofit.

“We are so pleased that HICDC is able to use this land to support this important need,” the Benioffs said in a statement. “We are inspired by all that (HICDC Executive Director) Keith Kato and his team have accomplished across the years in providing self-help housing and affordable rentals to families on the Big Island, and are honored to support their work.”

Kato said in the press release that “Our goal is to move quickly as affordable housing is needed today for low to moderate income residents on Hawaii Island.”

“We are on our way and will begin to qualify the first 43 families to begin their journey to home ownership,” he said. “Without the Benioffs’ donations, none of this would be possible today.”

Lynne and Marc Benioff, who is the billionaire founder and CEO of software company Salesforce, have donated more than $250 million to philanthropic causes in Hawaii, including a recent $150 million gift to expand hospitals, including the Hilo Benioff Medical Center, as well as major gifts for disaster relief, fire safety, emergency transport, education and the environment.

This also includes $7 million to facilitate the Ouli Project site planning and infrastructure development and an additional unrestricted $1 million gift to expand HICDC’s capacity to bring more housing to the community.

“What can I say, but wow,” said Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth in a statement. “Marc and Lynne Benioff continue to amaze me with their generous giving to Hawaii Island. Gifting an additional 158-acres of land will help people on Hawaii Island buy a home that they can afford for years to come.”

The Ouli Project is intended for self-help housing, turnkey-single-family-for-sale housing, and potentially low-rise multi-family housing.

The Ouli Project will include accessory facilities including parks, community spaces and open space on the 440 acres. The project can be accessed from Kawaihae Road by way of Waiula Drive, which also provides access to an existing Hawaii County rental housing project.

The project will begin with an initial 43-unit self-help affordable housing phase. During this phase, HICDC develops the lots, evaluates eligibility and processes loan applications, manages house plans, procures specialty work, trains and supervises households on construction and safety, manages subcontractors and manages receipt and payment of loan funds through project completion.

HICDC has developed nearly 900 affordable housing units on Hawaii Island over the past 30 years. There are 40 existing self-help units that abut the donated Ouli property part of a previous HICDC project.

“Mayor Mitch Roth’s description of sustainability describes families not just surviving but actually thriving,” said Hawaii County Housing Administrator Susan Kunz in a statement. “Providing access to affordable housing helps our ohana and families thrive. I can’t emphasize how important it is to have the security of decent housing and a good living environment for everyone.”

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