PAHOA, Hawaii (KITV4) — A first-of-its-kind affordable housing project on Hawaii Island is meant to keep seniors Aging Well. It’s called the Sacred Heart Affordable Housing Project in Pahoa.
This is a look at Pahoa history in the making. Modular homes, getting set into place at the Sacred Heart Affordable Housing Project.
HOPE Services Hawaii spearheaded the development. CEO Brandee Menino describes them as “modular housing units. They have their own kitchen, bath, showers, living space; like a studio unit.”
Menino says Pahoa seniors have never had an affordable housing development before.
“For over 20 years, we’ve been the service provider in our community helping engage people experiencing homelessness and sheltering them. This is our first affordable housing build,” she said.
Menino says the Kilauea eruption in 2018 was the catalyst for developing this. First, they built temporary shelters, with the goal of eventually adding permanent housing.
“We saw people in oxygen tanks, hospital beds, and that was just not acceptable. We saw we needed a way to shelter our kupuna,” Menino recalled.
And they knew they needed to do it in Pahoa.
“Trying to bring them into the city, Hilo, wasn’t an option. They really wanted to stay in the area in which they are connected to,” Menino explained.
The community rallied around the idea. Donors are funding the $2.2-million project and even more businesses chipping in for furniture.
“We reached out to 14 partners in the community to furnish these 12 units,” she said.
Seniors only pay up to 30% of their income; the rest is subsidized. Menino says most of these clients only get social security checks, if even that.
“Kupuna have helped us our whole lives. We look up to our elders. This is not a way for the kupuna to live the rest of their lives out,” Menino said.
Without this housing, Menino says they would be on the streets.
“Breaks my heart to see seniors living on the streets, dying on the streets,” she said.