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July 26, 2010; Source: KTVI.com | Hawaii might be a sunny place for most people but for two brothers who run the Aloun Foundation, the skies are turning darker by the day. Currently awaiting sentencing for pleading guilty for trafficking in humans to work their farms, the foundation is having to answer questions raised by KITV 4 News about $2.1 million in low-interest loans brothers Mike and Alec Sou received from the U.S. Agriculture Department so their foundation could buy a four-story apartment complex to provide subsidized housing to low-wage farm workers.

Apparently the application for the loan was made before the FBI began investigating the brothers. KTVI reports that the only tenants in the building are employees of the brothers’ for-profit farm. To qualify for subsidized housing, tenants pay 30 percent of their income in rent and the U.S. Department of Agriculture covers the rest.  The news report quotes the property manager for the apartment, who says the Sous decided to make the application for the federal loan through their foundation, rather than the farm because they felt that would give them a “better chance” of getting the award.

Clare Hanusz, the attorney for the 27 trafficking victims, offered this comment when asked about the loan:  “I think it’s interesting and a little troubling how the Sou brothers know how to work the system.  Why this would fall under the guise of a nonprofit foundation as opposed to their for-profit enterprise is potentially concerning.  I don’t know why Aloun Farms wouldn’t just pay a living wage so that its workers wouldn’t have to use subsidized, basically federal government subsidized housing.”—Bruce Trachtenberg