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Posted: Thursday, June 10, 2004 12:00 am

"I was surprised," Aceret said by phone from her family's Kapa‘a home.

About 20 of the 199 applicants showed for yesterday's drawing at the Village, but only a few on hand drew high on the list. For the others, their numbers should come as a complete surprise.

Even first-place holder Aceret missed yesterday's drawing.

"We thought it was tomorrow," said Sheldon McDowell, Aceret's fiancee.

Aceret's top draw virtually guarantees her a $695-per month, three-bedroom apartment for her fiancee and two children.

That's probably half the cost of similar apartments on the market, McDowell said.

"Now I can move on in my life and look forward to a positive future," McDowell said.

Those drawing higher numbers remained hopeful yesterday.

"I can't believe they called my name," said Jennifer Hart, a school teacher at St. Catherine's in Kapa‘a. She and her two-year-old son hope to move sometime in August. But their 27th position could make it tricky.

That's because there were far more applicants than available apartments and even if they made the top spots, "it doesn't mean that you're guaranteed an apartment," said Charlene Sohriakoff, Hawaii Affordable Properties' vice president of operations.

An interview is the next step in the process. At the interview, applicants will be assessed according to their number placement, Kalepa apartment availability and other factors.

Also, some units are set aside for persons with hearing, vision and mobility impairments.

Generally speaking, individuals and families must make less than 50 percent of $56,1000 — Kaua‘i's median income, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

People making up to $22,600 in one-person households, and up to $32,300 in four-person households, could qualify for units. They will rent for $495 for one-bedroom units, $595 for two-bedroom units, and $695 for three-bedroom units, plus utility costs. That's cheaper than the adjacent, existing, 60-unit Kalepa complex, where a rental waiting list exists.

The units have washers, dryers and solar hot-water heaters.

Current plans call for 180 affordable rental units in all at Kalepa, to be built over the next few years.

The project is across Kuhio Highway from King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School in Hanama‘ulu, adjacent to the existing Kalepa Village units. Amenities include a recreation room, social hall, meeting room and playground. Primatech Construction Inc. is the general contractor.

The 40-unit project's total construction cost is $6.8 million. Construction financing was arranged through officials with First Hawaiian Bank.

Kalepa Village Partners is the partnership formed to build the 40 units on 2.8 acres leased from the County of Kaua‘i. The Kaua‘i Housing Development Corporation is the general partner.

Federal low-income tax credits administered by state housing officials were sold to investors to raise capital to build the apartments. The County of Kaua‘i Offices of Community Assistance Housing Agency kicked in $1.7 million in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds.

The federal tax-credits program, administered by state officials, is the program responsible for assisting developers of most affordable-rental projects nationally, he said.

The Bush administration wants to expand the tax-credits program to enable developers to build affordable single-family homes for pur-chase, but the details of that program need congressional approval. There are two more building sites at Kalepa Village, each planned to contain 40 affordable rental apartments. There are preliminary plans to build those units, contingent on securing funding to do so, said Ken Rainforth, county executive on housing.

Business editor Phil Hayworth can be reached at 245-3681 x 251 or at phayworth@pulitzer.net

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