"My landlord just raised the rent another $400. I only get $1,000 a month and canʻt afford it."
- A senior citizen from Miloliʻi
dignity, safety, community
The good news is, seniors are living longer, especially in Hawaii. But many are already finding that housing is becoming unaffordable as rents rise far above their incomes. Unless their children can take them in, options are limited and involve moving away from the community theyʻve lived in most of their lives.
OKK seeks to stem the tide by eventually building a senior housing complex in Naʻalehu. No such facility exists for kupuna to live on their own in their community with dignity, safety and prevent institutionalization. Our largest fundraising goal ever is currently underway. In 2021, thanks to many donations, OKK raised $250,000 to pay for a 2-acre, multi-family/commercially zoned building lot in Naʻalehu. The lot is located in downtown along highway 11 and is known to locals as the "old fruit stand property" and is now the location of OKK Marketplace. Now that the first goal has been reached, we're in the process of setting new ones regarding development as senior housing.
You may recall news reports in January of 2018 when OKK President Wayne Kawachi raised $75,000 towards this project by walking 100 miles from Paʻauilo to Naʻalehu. He came to be known statewide as the "Rubbah Slippah Guy" (news report below). Of that 75k, $30k was spent on the demolition of multiple structures on the fruit stand property. Closing costs, property taxes were also additional expenses. OKK also commissioned a market survey regarding the projected need for low-income, senior housing and the results confirmed what we already knew.
Above is the 2-acre lot pictured before and after it was cleared of abandoned buildings.
Kawachi toured the multi-phased Mohouli Heights Senior Housing in Hilo and envisions something similar to this for our project but on a smaller scale.