Habitat for Humanity Maui is looking "up instead of out" with its new 16-unit condominium project in Happy Valley.
Groundbreaking for the three-story structure at 2024 Kahawai St. along Iao Stream is set for 9 a.m. Thursday at the site. Kahu Kalani Wong will bless the property, and Mayor Alan Arakawa and board and staff members of Habitat for Humanity Maui will ceremonially help break ground.
This multiunit condominium project is a first for Habitat for Humanity Maui, though multifamily units have been built on the Mainland, said Sherri Dodson, executive director, on Friday.
Habitat for Humanity Maui is building its first condominium project in Happy Valley to maximize its resources, said Sherri Dodson, executive director. Groundbreaking for this three-story, 16-unit building is set for Thursday.
Maui Architectural Group rendering
The first story will be a garage with the 16 units on the second and third floors.
Armed with funds donated from a developer for affordable housing, Habitat sought out property to build its traditional single-family homes, said Dodson. 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.
"We kinda of look at it as a house on top of a house," 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.
Contractors have been hired to build the first-floor concrete garage and will be used to put in the plumbing, electrical and fire suppression systems, she said.
Once the first floor is completed, which is expected to take about six months, the owners of the units and volunteers will put in the steel framing and complete the job.
Since a contractor would take nine months to a year to complete the building, Dodson said she estimates that it will take them about 18 months to two years.
The project will cost a total of $3.5 million with about $3 million coming from federal and county funding, she said. The rest of the cost is being paid by Habitat from money it receives from mortgages it has extended to past clients.
Habitat, which has helped 75 families become homeowners, is the mortgage holder for all of its families. The agency assesses the families the cost of building supplies - which in this project Dodson estimated to be between $200,000 and $235,000.
At Habitat's 0 percent interest rate, the families will have a mortgage of about $800 to $1,000 per month.
Dodson added that none of their 75 families have had to face foreclosure despite the downturn in the economy. They have worked with families to restructure their mortgages to meet reduced income due to lost jobs and to help them find jobs.
The biggest problem their families face is dealing with predatory lenders, who are trying to get families to refinance their 0 percent mortgages so that they can pull out cash, Dodson said.
No applications have been accepted as yet for the condo project; that won't happen until the first floor is completed, Dodson said. It takes Habitat about a year to get families "homeowner ready," she added. They have to attend classes on home maintenance and other topics and to clear up their credit histories.
And they have to agree to put in "sweat equity" to build their homes.
"It's a huge commitment," said Dodson.
She believes this condominium project will be favorable for kupuna, veterans and single people starting out. The project is near a market and medical facilities and perfect for people who may be unable to maintain a house.
* Lee Imada can be reached at email@example.com.