Kunia residents and U.S. Rep. Case
U.S. Rep. Ed Case visits Kunia Village, in O‘ahu, Hawaii

RCAC staff welcomed Case this week at a site visit to Kunia Village, in O‘ahu, Hawaii. The Village is an example of how funding for water and wastewater infrastructure and affordable housing development can create positive outcomes for rural communities.

From 1916 until 2007, Kunia Village was part of the Del Monte Pineapple Plantation. It included workforce housing for plantation workers, but when the company closed its operations and laid off 551 workers, it put residents in jeopardy of losing their homes. However, the landowner, Campbell Estate, sold the property to the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center (HARC) for $10 and 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.

RCAC secured $6 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Section 514 farmworker housing loans and rental assistance for the current and future Kunia residents. Additional project financing included federal and state low-income housing tax credits, historic and solar energy tax credits, and tax-exempt bonds secured by a Section 538 USDA guarantee.

RCAC’s Loan Fund provided predevelopment financing to cover architectural and engineering expenses. RCAC then provided Kunia with a $6 million construction loan, which coupled with more than $20 million in tax-exempt bond financing from Wells Fargo, covered costs to renovate 45 existing rental units and demolish another 19 before constructing 37 new homes for farmworker families.

In August 2017 the first phase of the massive Kunia Village preservation, including 82 rental homes, was completed. Gov. David Ige participated in the ceremony.

“This is absolutely way better than where we were living before,” says Natalie Wong of her new home at Kunia. “We’re living in a little community. We can let the children out, we have a beautiful yard, it’s quiet and neighbors look out for each other here.”

“From the beginning and still now, it’s a great cooperation with RCAC, and all other agencies and our subsidiaries that helped make this project possible,” said Stevie Whalen, HARC’s executive director.

From 2014 to 2021, RCAC has provided technical assistance for water, wastewater and housing for  Kunia Village.

Read our full-length feature story here: https://www.rcac.org/success-stories/building-sense-community-kunia-village/