West Maui teachers could eventually see housing designed for them on eight lots just off Lahainaluna Road.
Governor David Ige last week released $15 million for the construction and design of public housing for teachers in the Lahainaluna Complex area, which includes Lahainaluna High, Princess Nahienaena Elementary, Lahaina Intermediate and King Kamehameha III Elementary. .
Randall Tanaka, deputy director of the state Department of Education’s Office of Facilities and Operations, said this will be the first time in at least 10 years that the DOE will set up housing for educators.
DOE housing already exists in places such as Lanai, where the department is also working with Pulama Lana’i to create more housing for teachers, Tanaka said.
He said the DOE is still debating whether the West Maui units will be single-family or duplex.
There is no timeline yet for construction or target completion dates, as the DOE is working with the state Department of Transportation to transfer land from one department to another.
But there is already enthusiasm for the project.
State Representative Angus McKelvey, whose district includes Lahaina, said it could set an example for similar projects on Maui and across the state, including the new Kulanihako’i High School in Kihei.
“We secured $15 million for dedicated teacher housing in West Maui in a location convenient to most schools. This could serve as a model for developing other dedicated housing for teachers in other areas close to the campus where they work,” McKelvey said Monday.
He said he heard teachers talking about a housing need, including a Kamehameha III elementary teacher renting at Lahaina Crossroads Apartments where tenants were reportedly told they would have to vacate and rents would be much higher. The new owners of the apartments have since taken over these measures.
The eight teacher housing lots are to the right of Lahainaluna Road toward mauka and before Lahaina Middle School. It was part of the Lahaina Bypass Project that set aside land for residents displaced by the bypass, Tanaka said.
He added that Ed Sniffen, the DOT’s deputy state highway director, brought the packages to the DOE’s attention.
The DOT has been working on transferring the properties’ water meters to the DOE, according to Tanaka, who said Maui State Sen. Roz Baker originally submitted the request for funding during the 2021 legislative season.
McKelvey said he and the Maui delegation were able to secure the funds this year. He paid tribute to all Maui lawmakers, especially Rep. Kyle Yamashita, vice chairman of the House Finance Committee, and Senator Gil Keith-Agaran, vice chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. .
The governor also praised the housing project in a letter to McKelvey.
“Projects like these are vital pieces of public infrastructure and help build a better home for our kupuna, keiki and all Hawaiians,” said Ige.
Tanaka said the DOE has a division that manages teacher housing and will do so with this project, noting that DOE employment must be verified and that some teachers may want to withdraw their rent directly from their paychecks, which division can help.
The Hawaii Housing Finance & Development Corporation was also involved, Tanaka added.
He said projects like this will stay with the DOE because the state’s School Facilities Authority is still relatively new and still in the construction phase.
The authority will be responsible for all development, planning, and construction of public schools related to capital improvement projects assigned by the legislature, governor, or board of education, depending on the state.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.