Kukui Gardens should keep its original intent
YOUR Sunday, Aug. 6, editorial
, "Kukui Gardens needs to remain affordable," was timely and important, as hundreds of lives will be harmed by the sale of Kukui Gardens. The governor's interest and support also is of great value. I was impressed with the bold and correct action by Wallace Ching, the prime son who wants his father's program to continue to serve the needy people.
Thirty-seven years ago I headed the Hawaii Council for Housing Action, which was a competitor for this project. Sen. John Hulton represented the Catholic Diocese, Jack Hall was our president, we had several unions with several Protestant churches as sponsors and we even had some Big Five board members such as C. Brewer's Harold Hee and an Alexander & Baldwin vice president. We were a true nonprofit, and were troubled by the critical action by one City Redevelopment Authority committee member who was a Realtor, who had favored our proposal, but suddenly changed and was the needed vote to award the project to Loyalty Enterprises.
Then Loyalty Enterprises made its submission as the nonprofit Ching Foundation. The Federal Housing Administration rejected this foundation as not adequate as a legitimate nonprofit, and the Loyalty Enterprises was the Ching company.
Some high-level meetings were held in Washington, and the idea came up that by having a couple of nonprofit entities as part of Kukui Gardens Inc. it would qualify. So they got St. Francis Healthcare System and the Marianist Center to become a part of the submission so it would be an acceptable nonprofit.
I am pleased that Wallace Ching has acted to keep the nonprofit human service role of Kukui Gardens to enable it to continue to meet the low- and moderate-income affordable housing needs of those who live there. This was a goal of his father's. I am not surprised that some of the family and the board members of the two nonprofit groups are part of the effort to sell it off to the highest bidder. The end result will be some 800 low- and moderate-income families lose their housing, some becoming homeless. As Ching pointed out, some of the board members from the nonprofit are motivated by profit, although the Ching Foundation has given their organizations millions.
I might add that the many projects that the Hawaii Council for Housing Action built at that time are still serving low- and moderate-income families and senior citizens. Hale Mahaolu on Maui, Kauluwela Senior Citizens housing and co-op, Hale Ola in Pearl City and Makalapa Manor in Aiea and the Waimanalo project are still serving the people who live there, and in most cases are in control of their housing.
D. Richard Neill lives in Aiea.