State forges ahead on building, keeping people housed

Posted on Dec 30, 2021 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main
Governor Ige’s priority has been to build more affordable housing like Hale Makana O Mōʻiliʻili, thanks to HHFDC and community partners.

Governor Ige’s priority has been to build more affordable housing like Hale Makana O Mōʻiliʻili, thanks to HHFDC and community partners.

Despite the pandemic, the Hawai‘i Housing and Finance Development Corporation has continued work on affordable housing — one of Governor Ige’s top priorities. We achieved our initial goal of building 10,000 new homes by 2020. In 2020 and 2021, HHFDC has been actively involved in 29 housing construction projects statewide, which are expected to deliver 2,950  more housing units. Two projects — the Central (512 units) and 803 Waimanu (153 units) — are expected to be completed in early 2022. In addition, HHFDC was able to preserve and renovate 1,221 affordable apartment units through a public-private partnership.

Helping renters and homeowners – Using federal coronavirus relief funds, the Rent Relief and Housing Assistance Program (RRHAP) provided $58 million to 13,663 renters and homeowners for rent or mortgage payments or homeowner association dues. In a January 2021 article, “Rent Relief Needed Fast. Hawai‘i Shows How,” Forbes magazine reported on how the state overcame bureaucratic hurdles to get help to people and described it as a model for other states.

DHHL director William Aila explains the program of subsistence agriculture and small farmland homesteads, which broke ground outside Hilo in September.

DHHL director William Aila explains the program of subsistence agriculture and small farmland homesteads, which broke ground outside Hilo in September.

Keeping DHHL beneficiaries in their homes and more – Since the state confirmed its first COVID-19 case in March 2020, the Hawaiian Homes Commission has taken action to postpone mortgage payments; provide rent, utility relief and grants; and approve a pilot loan program for downpayment assistance for fee-simple residences not on Hawaiian Home Lands on O‘ahu.

DHHL partnered with the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement to include all eligible Native Hawaiians in Hawai‘i in a $5 million Rental and Utilities Assistance program. As a result, the U.S Treasury released additional emergency rental assistance funds to “high-performing” state and local government grantees, of which DHHL was one. DHHL has continued to deliver infrastructure and capital improvement projects for beneficiaries throughout the pandemic, including a $27 million project to upgrade the 80-year-old Ho‘olehua Water System to improve the limited water supply for Moloka‘i beneficiaries.

For the homeless, the state has continued to work with the counties to connect those at risk of eviction or without housing. This includes three new ‘Ohana Zone projects in late 2020 and early 2021 and efforts to bring online long-term permanent housing projects such as Kamoku Kauhale and its “tiny homes” in Kalaeloa. The Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority (HPHA) worked with U.S. Vets and Home Aid Hawaii and the lieutenant governor’s office to add 36 new units. HPHA also joined with Partners in Care to launch an Emergency Housing Voucher program to connect individuals to long-term housing subsidies.

Read more in the January Capitol Connection newsletter.

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