Kukui Gardens offers opportunity for win-win deal
THE article "Church declined to save Kukui Gardens" (Star-Bulletin, Sept. 11) contains the outlines of a win-win solution, in spite of the tensions surrounding the sale of the 857 affordable rental units and the potential eviction and homelessness of hundreds of families.
Bishop Clarence Silva has repeatedly reassured the residents that Kukui Gardens Corporation's sale of the complex to Carmel Partners is being done in a way that will preserve affordability. However, Carmel Partners, a for-profit corporation, makes no bones that at a price of $130 million, the rent for all 857 units will rise considerably and will have to be converted to market rate shortly after 2011.
At a sale price of $130 million, Kukui Gardens Corporation, which is controlled by the Marianist Center (which owns Chaminade University and St. Louis School) and Franciscan Sisters (which owns St. Francis Medical Center) will make a profit of $125 million. The profit of the sale will benefit the Clarence C.T. Ching Foundation, whose board is controlled by the same three Catholic organizations.
At a sale price of $80 million, no families would be made homeless and Honolulu would not lose 857 affordable rental units, which are very much needed in a housing market that is already short anywhere from 17,000 to 50,000 units, depending on which study you believe.
A sale price of $80 million will net the Kukui Gardens Corporation a profit of $75 million for St. Louis, Chaminade and St. Francis Medical Center. The difference between the profit from $130 million and $80 million sale price is $50 million.
My appeal to the institutions who control the board of the Kukui Gardens Corporation is that instead of adding to the housing crisis they become a part of the solution: Consider the $50 million difference in sales price as a contribution to addressing the housing crisis and homeless problem on Oahu. This would keep hundreds of families from becoming homeless, but even more important, it would preserve the 857 units as affordable rentals in perpetuity.
The circumstances sounding this sale have presented these institutions with the opportunity to put the precepts of their faith into action. This is a challenge to step up to the plate and address the crisis in housing and homelessness, a challenge to choose the welfare of families and the community over exorbitant profit, to choose a profit of only $75 million rather than $125 million.
This would be a proud moment for the Marianist fathers who own Chaminade and St. Louis and the Franciscan Sisters of St. Francis Medical Center of living out their faith and following in the tradition of Father Damien and Mother Marianne Cope, Catholics who made such a difference to the people of Hawaii.
Bob Nakata is pastor of the Kahaluu United Methodist Church and a former state senator.