In one of the largest philanthropic donations of its kind in Hawaiʻi, 282 acres was donated in Waimea on Hawaiʻi Island for affordable housing.
The Hawaiʻi Island Community Development Corporation, a Hilo-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, announced that it received the major land and cash donation for affordable housing at ʻŌuli.
The gift by Marc and Lynne Benioff includes acreage to be used solely for residential use by low- and moderate-income households. The project is intended for self-help housing, turnkey-single-family-for-sale housing and potentially low-rise multi-family housing, according to a news release announcement. It will also include accessory facilities such as parks, community spaces and open space.
Development will begin with an initial 43-unit self-help affordable housing project at ʻŌuli. The new gift from the Benioffs also includes an additional $7 million to facilitate site planning and infrastructure development. It follows an earlier $1 million gift to HICDC to enable the organization to expand its capacity to help the community in other ways.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to create affordable housing for the community. The need is huge in Waimea with 30% of the community renting and 10% of those renters paying over 50% of their income for rent. That’s scary and simply not sustainable,” said Hawaiʻi Island Community Development Corp Executive Director Keith Kato in the news release. “We are deeply thankful to Lynne and Marc for all the families this project will help.”
Since its founding more than 30 years ago, the Hawaiʻi Island Community Development Corporation has developed nearly 900 affordable housing units on Hawaiʻi Island, including working with over 380 self-help builders to complete their homes through projects in Kohala, Kawaihae, Kailua-Kona, Pepeʻekeo, Panaʻewa, Keaʻau, Hawaiian Paradise Park and Mountain View. This includes 40 self-help units which abut the donated ʻŌuli property.
“Keith Kato and the wonderful team at HICDC have been supporting families in Hawaiʻi with affordable rentals for seniors and self-help housing for decades,” said Lynne and Marc Benioff. “We are so thankful for the work they do on behalf of this community that we have been blessed to be part of for many years, and we are happy to be able to support it in this way.”
“The generosity of this 282-acre donation from Marc and Lynne Benioff to help ease Hawaii’s crippling housing shortage cannot be overstated,” said Hawaiʻi Governor Josh Green, M.D. “We need 50,000 affordable housing units statewide, not just to put roofs over our local people’s heads, but to keep Hawaii the home we all love and cherish. It will take all of us, government, nonprofit organizations, and the philanthropic community to house our residents. The Benioff ʻohana has developed an incredible track record of supporting major Hawaiʻi island needs.”
“This gift from Marc and Lynne Benioff to enable HICDC to facilitate more home ownership in Waimea and South Kohala region is deeply appreciated,” said Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth. He added: “The need is great, and our ʻohana need all of us to help. We implore others to give and find ways to partner with Hawaiʻi Island Community Development Corp and other nonprofits to help create more affordable housing in our community.”
The number of affordable units in the ʻŌuli property will ultimately depend on how much water is available, according to the announcement. For the first phase, 43 water commitments are anticipated. The 282 acres can be accessed from Kawaihae Road by way of Waiula Drive, which also provides access to an existing County rental housing project.