Kunia blessing ceremony
L-R: Kahu Cordell Kekow performed the blessing; Blake Vance, HARC; Mark Alexander from the mayor’s office; Sen. Gabbard, Dave Robichaux, HARC; Connie Eligio, long time resident; Stevie Whalen, HARC executive director; Gov. Ige and Michael Carrol, RCAC.

Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) and Hawaii Agriculture Research Center (HARC) welcomed Hawaii Gov. David Ige, Hawaii State Sen. Mike Gabbard, Mark Alexander from the mayor’s office, representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U. S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development, participated in a blessing of 82 renovated or new historical and affordable agricultural worker rental homes in Kunia Village on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

This project is the first development partnership for RCAC. Del Monte pineapple plantation village operated from 1916 until 2007 and provided workforce housing to its plantation workers. When the company closed its operations, it laid off more than 500 workers. However, the land owner, Campbell Estate, sold the acreage containing the village and its related agricultural structures to HARC for $1.00, with an agreement to continue to provide affordable rental housing at the site. HARC did not have housing development experience, so RCAC agreed to develop a strategy to preserve the housing. Project development began in February 2010 and construction began in March 2017.

Kunia Village was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. RCAC provided financing, development expertise and environmental technical assistance for the project.

Kunia Village will provide up to 200 affordable rental units for agricultural workers in the next 20 to 30 years. The village includes a chapel, post office, gym/community center, agricultural businesses and support organizations, warehouses, offices and a wastewater treatment plant.