OHA vows millions for Hawaiians’ housing
The money is bound for the state's Home Lands Department
STORY SUMMARY »
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is working with the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to provide housing for native Hawaiians.
OHA promises to provide up to $90 million over 30 years to Hawaiian Home Lands programs to cover the interest payments on bonds to build housing projects.
OHA Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona said, "In OHA's 30-year history, there has been no other OHA-DHHL financial partnership on the scale and magnitude of this one."
A Hawaiian Home Lands official said that more than 1,000 housing units are planned and awaiting funding.
Gov. Linda Lingle said the partnership will help the state to build homes for native Hawaiians and boost the economy at the same time.
FULL STORY »
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has agreed to give the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands up to $90 million over 30 years to help fund housing projects for native Hawaiians.
OHA paying costs for next 30 years.
In making the announcement yesterday at OHA's boardroom, Haunani Apoliona, OHA chairwoman, said the trustees approved giving up to $3 million a year to the state to help fund housing projects.
"In OHA's 30-year history, there has been no other OHA-DHHL financial partnership on the scale and magnitude of this one," Apoliona said.
Gov. Linda Lingle said the partnership will help the state to build homes for native Hawaiians and also help the state economy.
"The infusion of capital into the construction industry helps to preserve jobs in all sectors of our economy," Lingle said.
The OHA money will go to cover the interest payments for up to 30 years on revenue bonds used to fund a portion of the Hawaiian Home Lands construction budget.
The bond money goes to build housing projects across the state. According to Lloyd Yonenaka, a Hawaiian Home Lands spokesman, more than 1,000 housing units are planned and awaiting funding.
The Legislature approved Hawaiian Home Lands' request this year to authorize $100 million in revenue bonds for housing projects.
Lingle said the agreement means that Hawaiian Home Lands will be able to more quickly move to finance construction projects.
"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," Lingle said.
Asked why the two agencies have not jointly funded housing projects for native Hawaiians in the past, Lingle said the two have previously felt they had "different job descriptions."
"The beneficiaries were saying, 'Why don't we get together?' It takes leadership and vision and they provided it," Lingle said, praising Apoliona and Micah Kane, Hawaiian Home Lands chairman.
Kane said the state has used money from commercial leases of department land to pay for housing projects, but the OHA money goes straight to the state.
"This money is specifically obligated to go to the revenue bond. The money will come to the department as revenue, and it will be applied to the bond," Kane said.
OHA has given $22.3 million to individuals to build homes throughout the state, including ones on Hawaiian Home Lands property.
According to federal law, the Hawaiian Homes Commission is responsible for the "rehabilitation of the native Hawaiian people through a government-sponsored homesteading program."
According to the law, native Hawaiians eligible for housing assistance are defined as those who have at least 50 percent Hawaiian ancestry.