Habitat condo project under way in Wailuku

Work has begun on Habitat for Humanity Maui’s Kahawai Street condominium project in Happy Valley, and the nonprofit agency is accepting applications for the purchase of units.

Typically, Habitat helps families become owners of single-family homes. This three-story, 16-unit condo project is a first for Habitat for Humanity Maui, though multifamily units have been built and sold on the Mainland, Maui Habitat Executive Director Sherri Dodson said in an interview last year.

Armed with funds donated from a developer for affordable housing, Habitat sought out property to build its traditional single-family homes, Dodson said. The high cost of land led the nonprofit organization, which helps put lower income families willing to put in “sweat equity” into affordable homes, to “in-fill lots” in neighborhoods, such as the one in Happy Valley, to maximize its money, she said.

The 11,000-square-foot parcel, which had become a dumping ground for tires and old appliances, cost the agency about $300,000, Dodson said previously.

Habitat, which offers the homes at its cost, is accepting applications for units with mortgages at zero percent interest to qualifying families. To be eligible for a unit, families need to show a need, the ability to pay the mortgage and a willingness to partner with Habitat, said a news release from Habitat on Wednesday.

To show a need, families must fall within 25 to 80 percent of median income for Maui County. In addition, they must be living in substandard housing, which could include overcrowded conditions; paying high rent or homeless.

The ability to repay the zero percent mortgage must be shown by adequate income and low debt. Habitat is willing to work with families to help reduce debt and increase income, the news release said.

The “sweat equity” requirement is a minimum of 500 hours. Owners also must attend homeowner education, budgeting and debt management classes, the news release said.

Under current budgeting, units will be going for between $200,000 to $250,000, said Dodson on Wednesday. The Habitat news release said it anticipates an average mortgage payment of between $1,000 and $1,500 a month.

The condominiums are one- and two-bedroom units between 750 and 800 square feet. There also will be one unit that’s disability accessible, Dodson said.

Each unit will have its own stackable washer and dryer, refrigerator and range. The units have small balconies with views of Iao Valley and of the ocean, the news release said.

The project will have a condominium association managing the property with all units dedicated to homeownership, the news release said. The project will have deed restrictions but also will allow families to gain equity in their home.

The building is expected to be completed by December 2014 with occupancy in March 2015, Dodson said. Currently, contractors are putting in the pillars on the first-floor garage, she said.

Habitat and its contractors basically will be putting up the building with its roof and electrical, plumbing, elevator and other facets that need to be done by professionals, Dodson said.

The unit owners will work on framing, finish work, painting and anything else Habitat asks them to do, she said.

“With the start of the Kahawai project, our 16-unit condominium, we will be providing an opportunity for homeownership for many who thought they could only dream of owning their own home,” Dodson said.

For more information, call 242-1140 or go to the website www.habitat-maui.org.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.