Native Hawaiians Become Homeowners through Self-Help Program
The Homestead Self Help Program (HSHP), developed by the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) in 2009, has significantly lowered the cost of housing for Native Hawaiians. “We saw that the average homes were costing at about $595,000 on Oahu, and about $450,000 on Kauai,” said Rosalee Puaoi, loan fund officer at the CNHA on the Na Oiwi Olino 940AM radio station. Through the program, in which both families and contractors are involved in the construction of four-bedroom, two-bath houses on the islands, the cost of their homes have been lowered to about $200,000 or less, Puaoi said.
“The self-help process allows families to come on the job site and put in what we call ‘sweat equity,’ so that brings down the price of homes, because it allows families to start doing things like painting, or helping with the flooring, or putting in interior materials,” Puaoi said, adding that CNHA has modified the traditional self-help approach. “Families are still part of the process, but we’re also bringing in some subcontractors and trades during the week, so that it shortens the amount of time that the self-help project takes. Usual self-help projects can take between 12 and 18 months for a project our size with 12 homes right now. We’re trying to do it within six months.”
Training sessions work with the group to qualify for home financing, review the role of homeowners insurance, floor plans and managing construction costs in preparation for building to begin. CNHA offers technical assistance to guide families every step of the way. “They help them prequalify for a loan,” Puaoi said. “Then, on the construction side, we show them how to paint and do other things. They have safety and demonstration meetings with the family every weekend for the tasks they’ll be doing.”
Kuulei Naniho, program participant from Kaneohe, appreciates being involved in preparation and construction. “Every meeting brings us closer to homeownership,” Naniho said in a CNHA press release. “We are all looking forward to getting our hands dirty and working with CNHA and program partners to build and move into our new homes.”
Families in the program are on the waiting list of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and the self-help program helps them become homeowners. Currently, 10 homes are scheduled to be built in Kapolei, the second project of CNHA’s self-help program. The first project is in its final three weeks of construction on a total of 12 homes in the Anahola Homestead on Kauai. Projects are also underway on Hawaii Island, with 10 homes planned for a family group there. “DHHL assigns our nonprofit a group of lots in each of their subdivisions where they are building market priced homes," said Robin Danner, CNHA President. “We then work with families on the wait list that may be unable to qualify for the developer built homes, through our self help approach to lower the cost and affordability. It’s a great partnership with DHHL to meet the diverse needs of the entire range of their beneficiaries.”