OHA, DHHL unite to put more Hawaiians in homes

400-500 additional beneficiaries could be in homes by 2010

By Blaine Fergerstrom, Ka Wai Ola, July 2008

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands on June 5 announced a historic partnership intended to quickly put more Hawaiians in homes.

Gov. Linda Lingle
Gov. Linda Lingle, along with Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and House Majority Leader Kirk Caldwell, joined with members of the boards of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to announce a historic alliance which would put more Hawaiians in homes. – Photo: Blaine Fergerstrom

The OHA Board of Trustees approved an extended grant of $3 million per year to cover the debt service for up to 30 years for up to $40 million in revenue bonds as part of DHHL’s 2008-2009 construction budget.

“OHA’s assistance will enable DHHL to directly touch an additional 400 to 500 beneficiaries over the next 12 to 18 months with affordable housing opportunities,” Gov. Linda Lingle, on hand for the announcement, said.

“But the impact for generations to come is immense with generations having the chance to grow up in a home they own.”

The governor also noted that Hawai‘i’s economy will benefit from the new jobs that will be created by these housing projects.

“This partnership will help everyone,” Lingle said. “The infusion of capital into the construction industry helps to preserve jobs in all sectors of our economy.”

Hawaiian Homes Commission Chairman Micah Käne said that preliminary discussions between OHA and DHHL began last year regarding the possibility of obtaining OHA’s financial support.

“Beneficiaries continue to urge DHHL to work with OHA especially with regard to obtaining financing for infrastructure for upcoming residential homestead developments,” Käne said.

“We believe our track record of building affordable homes was important for both OHA and the Legislature in order to invest in this partnership.”

“The Office of Hawaiian Affairs serves all Hawaiians,” said OHA Chairperson Haunani Apoliona.

“In OHA’s 30-year history, there has been no other OHA-DHHL financial partnership on the scale and magnitude of this one. Our collective success will help Hawaiian self-determination is good for Hawaiians; it is also good for all of Hawai‘i nei. This alliance is a perfect example,” Apoliona said.

OHA Administrator Clyde Nämu‘o said that the approval by the Trustees today will allow OHA and DHHL to enter in to an agreement by next month.

“The ultimate purpose of providing these funds is to allow DHHL to expeditiously implement Community Master Plans throughout the state,” Nämu‘o said.

“The Administration, the Legislature, OHA and DHHL working together highlights how government is taking an active role in keeping our economy strong,” said Kyle Chock, executive director of the Pacific Resources Partnership.

“We are especially fortunate to have OHA step up at this time because this partnership will help preserve jobs for our members, and that’s good for everyone.”

Also on hand for the announcement were Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, House Majority Leader Kirk Caldwell and representatives of homesteader associations and the construction industry. House Speaker Calvin Say, who was off-island, extended his congratulations.

The DHHL bonds will be used for statewide construction projects and $5 million will be earmarked to fund planning, design and feasibility studies for community-driven projects in 18 regions throughout the State of Hawai‘i.

Another successful partnership between OHA and DHHL is the Home Ownership Assistance Program. Last year, OHA provided DHHL with a $500,000 grant in support of the Home Ownership Assistance Program, which prepares and equips Native Hawaiians for homeownership through homebuyer counseling.