Hawaii Public Housing Authority, Michaels Development Company Awarded Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant

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$300,000 federal grant will enable the HPHA and Michaels to craft a comprehensive, community-driven plan to revitalize the entire neighborhood of Kuhio Park

Kuhio Park Terrace, Michaels Organization, Hawaii Public Housing

The first renovated tower of Kuhio Park Terrace is now leasing its first units to income-eligible families

The development of a Transformation Plan for the Kuhio Park neighborhood will lead to additional efforts aimed at serving the HPHA’s thousands of other families

The Hawaii Public Housing Authority (HPHA) and its private-sector development partner The Michaels Development Company today announced its selection by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a recipient of a 2012 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant. The $300,000 federal grant will be used to craft a comprehensive, community-driven plan to revitalize the entire neighborhood of Kuhio Park, site of the HPHA’s largest public housing community.

“These funds will allow the HPHA to lead efforts to create a plan that provides the Kuhio Park community and public housing residents with improved access to the resources they need to live a healthy, safe, and sustainable life in the 21st Century,” said Hakim Ouansafi, HPHA’s Executive Director. Ouansafi added, “We look forward to partnering with the various stakeholders in engaging our neighbors to create an action-oriented program to change lives.”
Choice Neighborhoods is one of the signature programs of the Obama Administration’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which is designed to support holistic strategies that bring public and private partners together to help break the cycle of poverty. In addition to supporting affordable housing, the Choice Neighborhoods grant programs seek to encourage collaboration among housing developers, educators, the criminal justice system, cities, states, and nonprofit organizations to create sustainable, mixed-income neighborhoods with quality housing, high performing schools and safe streets.

In 2011, HPHA, Michaels Development Company and Vitus Group began renovating The Towers at Kuhio Park in the state’s first public-private development partnership. The $135 million rehabilitation effort is the centerpiece and first phase of a multi-year revitalization program for Kuhio Park Terrace and Kuhio Homes. With the 1st Tower completed last year, Michaels is nearing completion of the 2nd Tower and has begun renting the renovated affordable units to income-eligible families who earn less than 60 percent of the Area’s Median Income.

Being awarded the Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant enables HPHA and Michaels to now work with its key partners to move forward with planning the large-scale revitalization of the wider neighborhood, including the low rise Kuhio Homes community. Among the key partners in this planning effort are the Hawaii Community Foundation, the Governor’s Office, the Hawaii State Legislature, the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation, the City and County of Honolulu, the Kalihi-Palama Neighborhood Board, and the Hawaii Departments of Human Services, Education, and Transportation. In addition, several community service providers that already serve the residents of Kuhio Park, including Parents & Children Together, Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services, Hawaii Literacy, Faith Action for Community Equity, and YMCA’s Pioneering Healthier Communities as well as the Honolulu Police Department have all pledged support and involvement in this effort. EJP Consulting Group will serve as the planning coordinator for the grant.

This award coincides with the HPHA’s recent efforts over the past year to improve access to services and repair communications among different resident groups. The HPHA has focused on local community planning for safety, access to high-quality educational opportunities, including early childhood education, and career development services, at the agency’s properties statewide. The development of a Transformation Plan for the Kuhio Park neighborhood will lead to additional efforts aimed at serving the HPHA’s thousands of other families.

“The Kuhio Park neighborhood contains the largest remaining number of public housing units in the state and is suffering from old age and blight,” said Michaels Development Vice President Monika Mordasini, who is the lead developer overseeing the Kuhio Park development. “With this grant, we can partner with existing local resources and further develop a comprehensive transformation plan that not only improves affordable housing opportunities for Hawaii’s low and moderate income families, but also create a strategy for improving the school, services, and public safety in their neighborhood,” Mordasini said.

The HPHA/Michaels application was one of 17 selected from an applicant pool of 72. The development team plans to utilize their master plan for the community’s revitalization to support an application for a $30 Million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant .

About the HPHA:
The HPHA is the sole public housing agency for the State of Hawaii, providing, safe, decent, sanitary, and temporary housing to low income families. The agency administers over 6,000 State and Federal public housing units on five islands, and over 1,900 rental assistance vouchers on the Island of Oahu.

About The Michaels Organization
The Michaels Organization is a family of eight integrated but independent companies dedicated to excellence in affordable, mixed-income, military, and student housing. Our mission is to create attractive residential communities for families, seniors, military service members, and students that stand the test of time and that are managed to maximize long-term value for residents as well as investors. Serving more than 100,000 residents in 340 communities across 33 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and with a development portfolio valued in excess of $3 billion, The Michaels Organization is a national leader in the residential real estate industry, with full service capabilities in development, property and asset management, construction, mortgage finance, and tax credit syndication.

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Laura Zaner

Nick Birck
Hawaii Public Housing Authority
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