"As much as we tried, it seemed like we were getting nowhere. It felt like we were getting more down. And sleeping on the floor every night … It was bad," said Zandi. "When it rained, it's like you're sleeping in the bath tub or something. It poured on you all night. There was nothing we could do. We had no roof over our frickin' heads. It was a sad living."
The family also lived in a shelter -- a sweltering, crowded, dorm-like facility filled with kids. When she returned to the shelter to visit, Kahale couldn't deny feelings of guilt. "I once lived in their shoes, but I believe in God, that all things are possible, and it became possible for me."
Other shelter residents hope and pray for the day they can move out of the shelter. "I hope that I'll be one of them on the list, one day," said Roxanne Bustamante, a shelter resident, "because it's the help that I need. You know? And you know, I'm grateful for this building … but it's a place my family shouldn't be at. I mean, I want to call someplace a home, a home where I can come to."
Kahale has that home thanks to Kawamoto, but a nagging question is still the talk of the islands. Everyone wonders what Kawamoto is up to.
From talk radio to the streets of the upscale Kahala neighborhood, many believe Kawamoto is driven more by greed than generosity.
The leading theory is that he's moved poor people into his homes to lower property values there and create a buying opportunity for himself.
Richard Turbin is a member of a very worried neighborhood association. "Well, he is a person -- I mean, a person builds a legacy, builds a history. He's done some not such great things in the past. So you can't help but be suspicious."
After all, this neighborhood is accustomed to residents like the founder of Sony, among many other CEOs, doctors and lawyers.
"Well, I'd say there's definitely some suspicion, because of his track record," said Turbin. "On the other hand, you have to hope for the best in human nature. I mean, he's an older guy now, probably thinking about his legacy and if he can leave some positive legacy, we're hoping that's his motivation."
Real estate agents are also worried. Several said that they've already lost sales over the issue, and they fear it could get even worse, because Kowamoto owns roughly 20 multimillion-dollar homes in this neighborhood. His plans are to use some of them to help even more poor and homeless families.
Buck has debated the issue for weeks on his radio show. In his view, if Kawamoto really wanted to help, he'd sell his homes and use the money to help lots of people, instead of a select few. "You can take the same dollar amount of money and buy 50 houses somewhere else and make 50 families happy instead of 11," said Buck.
"So you just sort of have to weigh the deal here and say, 'What is this guy trying to do?' and maybe he's just an eccentric old guy with lots and lots of money that is trying to do something right. But time is going to tell."
Kawamoto wasn't available for an interview with "Nightline," but says that his charitable actions speak for themselves. And Kahale has heard all the criticism, but from the comfort of her new home, she has faith.
"He did not bring us this far from the beaches, from the shelters, to put us back out there again," said Kahale. "He's seen the life that we lived in the shelter, and he knew I was sincere when I received keys. Crying, he shed a tear, too, and people said he does not shed tears. So I know he's sincere, just by that."
For Kahale and the other lucky families, her new home is paradise. And for the first time in a long time, the beach is just someplace to visit.