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Work continues on Hilo senior housing project

<p>HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald </p><p>Construction continues on the Mohouli Heights Senior Neighborhood project Friday afternoon.</p>


Tribune-Herald staff writer

While the Mohouli Heights Senior Neighborhood project is not expected to be ready for occupancy until later this year, potential tenants can get on the county list for one of 20 subsidized housing units when they become available.

Work on the senior housing project began with a ground-breaking ceremony for 60 units on March 29, 2012, but the mostly one-bedroom apartments will not be ready for occupancy until November, said Keith Kato, director of the Hawaii Island Community Development Corp.

Qualified applicants should call the county Office of Housing and Community Development, 959-4642, and ask for their names to be placed in the project voucher program, said Sharon Hirota, County housing specialist. The county will subsidize 20 units in Phase I of the project for seniors with incomes at or below 30 to 50 percent of the Hawaii County median income, Hirota said. Applicants also must be at least 62 years old to qualify.

With county and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rental assistance, the monthly rent for tenants will be about 30 percent of their income for a 576-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment, and the units will be affordable for 61 years under terms of the federal and state financing and tax credits.

The additional 40 units will be subsidized with rental assistance funding from HUD, Kato said. Those units will have the same age and income requirements for applicants.

The project is a collaboration among the state Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp., HUD, County Rural Community Assistance Corp. and the Hawaii Island Community Development Corp.

The $35 million Neighborhood project is located on nearly 16 acres at Komohana and Mohouli streets in Hilo, where Phase I is comprised of 11 residential buildings and a community gathering place connected with covered walkways.

The second phase of the project isn’t scheduled yet, but it’s anticipated that another 90 units could be built on the site, Kato said. “It depends on how much funding we get,” he said.

HHFDC provided $20.5 million in state and federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, a Rental Housing Trust Fund loan of $8.6 million, and a Rental Assistance Revolving Fund loan of $7.5 million for the current phase. The project is also financed with $600,000 in HOME Investment Partnership Act funds administered by the County of Hawaii and a $4 million interim loan from RCAC.

Included in the six-acre site for Phase I of the project is a site for the relocation of the Hilo Adult Day Care Center from its current location at the old Hilo Hospital site on Rainbow Drive to the Mohouli Heights Senior Neighborhood, Kato said.

Hawaii Island contractor Heartwood Pacific is building Phase I of the project.

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