Waiahole tenants receive new lease on life
Waiahole families get help from a nonprofit to build new houses
Two years ago, Cookie and Lawrence Lagapa got an eviction notice because they hadn't met the terms of their state lease, requiring them to build a house on their Waiahole Valley lot.
But they and others could not get mortgages because their leases wouldn't allow them to buy the leasehold interest.
In March 2005,* the state's Hawaii Housing Finance & Development Corporation board approved an affordable formula for tenants to purchase the leasehold interest for 5 percent of the land's value. Forty-five percent of the land's value is deferred, and the remaining 50 percent is not paid unless the land is sold.
Saturday,* seven families will break ground to build their own homes with the help of the nonprofit organization Self-Help Housing Corp.
"All they pay is 5 percent of the appraised value" for the land, said Claudia Shay, executive director and founder of Self-Help, which has helped build 540 homes across the state.
The four-bedroom, two-bath houses will be built for $150,000, which will be paid by each family, who also contribute 36 hours of work a week. The families will work as teams and will not move in until all are built.
So Cookie Lagapa will finally be able to hammer nails into her new home.
"I just wish my husband could be right along side me," she said. Lawrence, a heart transplant patient, died last year.
"We couldn't do anything until the state gave us permission," said Lagapa, 56, who had planned to build in 1997. "They were threatening to evict us. It's frustrating."
The state purchased the land from the previous landowner and issued 55-year leases to existing tenants in 1998.
But because the way the leases were written, they couldn't get financing for building loans, resulting in many homes in extremely poor condition.
Beverly and Michael Garcia lived in Waiahole for 21 years without electricity.
"Our house wasn't livable," Beverly said. "It was collapsing already. ... It was hard because my children was young."
They showered outside using wood to heat water from a reservoir, and bought ice every other day.
She said she is grateful for the people at Self-Help and the Waiahole association.
"We had so many obstacles to go through before this is finally happening," she said.
Although there are 90 lessees, not everyone needs a new house, but some may use this formula to do repair work as well, Shay said.
Self-Help also helps tenants to secure the loans and assists in everything from drafting house plans to obtaining septic tanks for elderly low-income residents.
Friday, December 15, 2006
» Seven Waiahole Valley families will break ground tomorrow to build new homes under a lease with the state. A Page A4 story yesterday incorrectly said they would break ground today.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
» The state's housing board approved a formula for Waiahole Valley tenants to buy the leasehold interest of their lots in March 2005. A Page A4 article Thursday incorrectly reported that the approval came last March.