960 sign petition to keep affordable housing
But the managers of Kukui Gardens refuse to accept the petition
Kukui Gardens residents have collected 960 signatures on petitions to maintain low- and moderate-income rental housing beyond 2011.
The residents yesterday tried to present the petition to the owner, nonprofit Kukui Gardens Corp., which is selling the apartment complex in Kapalama, but management would not accept the petition.
U.S. Housing and Urban Development officials said a new owner of Kukui Gardens won't be able to convert the 857-unit, affordable-rental housing complex into luxury condos or any other use until 2011.
No matter what, HUD restrictions will remain in effect until 2011, said Cheryl Fukunaga, project manager for U.S. Housing and Urban Development.
Even if a buyer prepays the 40-year mortgage, HUD would put in place another type of use agreement until the original maturity date of the loan in 2011, Fukunaga said.
"That's really good news," said Carol Anzai, president of the Kukui Gardens Community Association.
She said it gives people time to try to find other housing.
"I'm telling people now that they better be serious," she said. "A lot of residents don't think it's going to happen, but there's a bunch that knows."
Anzai still worries that especially the elderly residents, who make up 55 percent of the residents, many of whom are poor immigrants, won't be able to find alternative housing.
The residents have suggested that the 22-acre property be sold to a nonprofit buyer interested in keeping it affordable, rather than to a for-profit entity that may build luxury condominiums in their place.
"The nonprofit corporation that owns the property is entertaining offers right now," said spokeswoman Elisa Yadao. Proceeds of the sale will be used to ensure the Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation will continue to be viable.
The foundation has donated millions of dollars to Saint Louis School, Chaminade University, St. Francis Medical Center and other organizations over the years.
She could not say whether the corporation's board would be willing to meet with the residents group.
City Councilman Rod Tam said residents plan to hand-deliver the petition to each of Kukui Gardens' officers and directors today.
The group plans a rally 3:30 p.m. tomorrow at the state Capitol.