Honolulu Field Office Newsletter
Na Hana Ku Aloha
“Achieving Through the Spirit of Aloha”
Volume 5 Issue 4
Chaminade University will receive a $799,297 HUD grant under the Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions Assisting Communities (AN/NHIAC) Program to acquire property to house the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs. The facility will be used for training and community outreach to the Hawaiian Civic Clubs, and as a hub for community service by Chaminade students, faculty, and staff. The AN/NHIAC grant program is designed to provide colleges and universities with additional resources in community development to expand their role and effectiveness in the communities they serve. Since program grants were first awarded in 2000, Hawaii has received $3,295,477.
In late August, Senator Inouye toured the Waianae Coast to view two projects funded by grants from the Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions Assisting Communities (AN/NHIAC) Program. The whirlwind tour began with a stop at the Waianae Coast Telecommunications Center located at Waianae High School (WHS). The Telecommunications Center is a new multi-media production facility used to train students and community residents in the art of video production. Trainees use a studio set, control room, and state-of-the-art video equipment with the ultimate goal of improving employment opportunities in Waianae. During the visit, students had an opportunity to show the Senator their award-winning work. Over half of the 50 awards won by students in the WHS multi-media program were achieved during the 2002-2003 school year following the renovation and modernization of the facility.
MA'O Organic Farm was the Senator's final stop. MA'O stands for Mala 'Ai 'Opio Community Food Security Initiative - a movement to establish a comprehensive local food system for the Waianae Community that will help fight hunger, improve nutrition, strengthen local food security, and move low-income families towards self-sufficiency. A first phase project for MA'O is the establishment of a community agriculture education and processing center to incubate organic farms and value-added food production businesses. The Waianae Organic Agriculture Center will create a training program, develop curricula for micro-enterprises development, and convene a conference on community food security. Senator Inouye met the MA'O Youth Leaders who are being trained to manage the 5-acre working organic farm and to produce organic fruits and vegetables.
Both projects are community partnerships of Leeward Community College, a grant recipient of the fiscal year 2001 and fiscal year 2002 AN/NHIAC program. For more information, please contact Mike Pecsok at Leeward Community College at 455-0269.
Helping more low- and moderate-income Americans become homeowners is a national priority. Staff of the City & County of Honolulu's Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program share two success stories of families realizing the American Dream of homeownership. Both families were receiving housing rental assistance and participating in the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program.
FSS is a HUD program designed to help families receiving housing assistance obtain employment that will lead to economic independence and self-sufficiency. Housing agencies, in this case, the City's Rental Assistance Branch, works with welfare agencies, schools, businesses, and other local partners to develop a comprehensive program that gives participating FSS family members the skills and experience to enable them to obtain employment that pays a living wage. Here, according to City staff, are their stories:
Ginger T. became a participant in the City & County of Honolulu's Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program in May of 2002. She graduated from Campbell High School, and works full-time as a security guard at Campbell. With two young sons to care for, Ginger's life-long dream was to become a homeowner. An impossible dream it seemed, because financing a house through a traditional bank loan was not only beyond her budget, but intimidating for her. Doubtful, yet determined, Ginger attended an FSS Informational Briefing and Career Assessment. She diligently continued with the program, attended many workshops to better herself, repaired her credit, and researched every homeownership program referred to her by the FSS staff.
After carefully considering all housing programs, Ginger decided to join the Self-Help Housing Corporation of Hawaii program. In August of 2002, she was one of fifteen (15) families who started building their own homes. Ginger spent every weekend (32 hours), building side-by-side with her future neighbors, until all 15 houses were ready for occupancy. Today, Ginger is the PROUD owner of a 4-bedroom, 2-bath, 2-car garage house in Ewa Beach. She is a remarkable example of how hard work and discipline can pay-off in the end. Ginger stands as a testament to the saying that with a little bit of luck and a whole lot of hard work, "Dreams DO Come True."
Vicki H. and her daughter received preference to enter the City and County of Honolulu's Section 8 Rental Assistance Program with other disabled families in 1992. Section 8 and FSS helped with rent benefits and support, while she pursued her goals: working, going to school, raising her daughter, and building her savings for a future home. Vicki became skilled in MCSE, Networking, A+, and other advanced computer programs. Acquiring these skills has helped Vicki earn more than three times the salary she earned when she started Section 8 in 1992. Vicki will be up for a promotion soon, and will earn an income near $50,000 per year.
Vicki not only achieved her educational and employment goals, she's achieved many other life coping goals too. She rebuilt her credit and is now a proud owner of a three-bedroom condominium with mortgage and insurance payments of $1,270 per month. Though Vicki saved and was eligible for Home Start Plus, a program that matches her savings with double subsidies up to $10, she opted to keep the great deal she got for her loan at 5.75%.
To other participants in the FSS Program, Vicki says: "Believe. Believe in yourself and FSS. FSS will support you and help you stay on your path to self-sufficiency; and they'll be there to help with other support if you need it. If I, a handicapped adult can do this, so can you. Reach for your stars cuz dreams to own your home do come true."
Maui residents came out in full force to learn how to become a homeowner at the 2nd Annual Maui Community Homebuyer Fair on September 13. Thanks to the collaborative effort and support of the eighteen organizations that helped to make this Fair possible, Maui residents learned first-hand about the home buying process and how to access various community resources.
The Paukukalo Community Center provided a friendly and comfortable atmosphere to introduce potential homebuyers to the steps on preparing for homeownership. Mortgage lenders and brokers were available to do mortgage pre-qualifications and address financing concerns; Realtors provided advice on how to shop for a home; and various non-profit, private, and government agencies shared information on programs and services they provide to help make homeownership a reality. Some of these services include homebuyer education, housing counseling, self-help housing, Hawaiian home lands, fair housing rights, and various government loan programs.
The 2nd Annual Maui Community Homebuyer Fair was a tremendous success thanks to the participation and support of the following organizations: American Savings Bank, Hawaii Community Lending, HomeStreet Bank, Irwin Mortgage Corporation, North American Mortgage Company, the Mortgage Bankers Association, Four Star Mortgage Corporation, the Hawaii Association of Mortgage Brokers, Coldwell Banker Island Properties, Sylvia Cabral Realty, Realtors Association of Maui, Bishop Insurance, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Hale Mahaolu, Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, Hawaiian Community Assets, Housing and Community Development Corporation of Hawaii, Housing Division of Maui County Department of Housing and Human Concerns, Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, Maui Economic Opportunity, Maui Electric Company, Maui Habitat for Humanity, Maui Police Department, Self-Help Housing Corporation of Hawaii, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Are you interested in hosting a Community Homebuyer Fair on Kauai or Hawaii? We would like to explore the possibility of conducting future Community Homebuyer Fairs on your island. Please contact Claudine Allen in the Honolulu Field Office at 522-8175 x223 or by e-mail at Claudine Allen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Building Industry Association of Hawaii kicked off the 2003 Parade of Homes with an awards banquet on Friday, October 3 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The HUD Honolulu Field Office sponsored an award recognizing Excellence in Expanding Homeownership and Affordable Housing Opportunities. Gordan Furutani, Honolulu Field Office Director, presented the HUD award to Schuler Homes, a D.R. Horton Company for their entry, Palekai at Sea Country - Moana. The BIA Parade of Homes is Hawaii's premiere tradeshow showcasing the latest trends, technology, and design in new home construction. There were nine model home entrants spanning six categories in this year's event. The Parade of Homes takes place on October 4, 5, 11 & 12, 2003 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant (NHHBG) program is entering its second year of operation. An additional $9.6 million has been allocated to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) by Congress to continue the affordable housing activities that began with the initial allocation of $9.6 million in fiscal year 2002. Current project activities include infrastructure development in three Hawaiian home land communities on Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii. In addition, DHHL recently announced the launching of its low-income home repair loan program that is available to income eligible families living on Hawaiian home lands throughout the state.
HUD has been pleased with DHHL's progress in getting the NHHBG program underway and notes that a large percentage of the grant funds has been obligated within the first year. As current and future projects are completed, low-income native Hawaiians will more fully realize the benefits of the program as affordable housing opportunities increase. HUD congratulates DHHL and the Hawaiian Homes Commission on their efforts during the first year and looks forward to several new initiatives in the upcoming months.
All Hawaii counties, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa were represented at the Housing Opportunities Workshop held on September 16 at the Japanese Cultural Center. The day-long workshop called attention to the affordable housing crisis that all jurisdictions are facing now and will continue to face in the foreseeable future. A highlight of the workshop was a presentation by Jim Dannemiller of SMS Research on the findings of the Housing Study that was commissioned by the State and County Housing Directors and Administrators. Although the overall housing demand has decreased over the past several years, the gaps between the demand for affordable housing by those families at 80% of median income and the supply of housing to meet that demand remains large and is expected to grow. The discouraging finding is that there are no programs in place today that are geared towards serving that demand. Carol Wilkins of the Corporation for Supportive Housing in California shared success models for addressing the needs of the chronic homeless.
The affordable housing crisis has not gone unnoticed. The Mayors of all counties and the Governor have expressed a willingness to address this issue from a coordinated and comprehensive standpoint. The Housing and Community Development Corporation of Hawaii (HCDCH) will be convening a Section 8 Task Force to see how the Section 8 vouchers can be better utilized to serve low-income families. The Homeless Policy Academy is looking at ways to encourage landlords to rent units to the homeless and other low-income renters.
For more information on affordable rental housing initiatives, contact Michael Flores at (808) 522-8175 ext. 226.
All providers of housing are required by law to provide housing in a fair and equal manner. Yet, all housing providers do not have the exact same obligations concerning fair housing. This article, the first in a series, focuses upon the diverse responsibilities of housing providers to comply with applicable fair housing laws. In this article, we will explore the duties and responsibilities of housing providers who receive low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) from State housing finance agencies.
There are certain housing providers who offer a certain percentage of their housing stock to low-income individuals. In return for doing so, they receive credit towards the payment of their income tax, and are deemed recipients of low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC). The LIHTC program is a federal tax credit given to individuals and corporations who invest in low- and moderate-income rental projects. The credit is allocated to housing finance agencies, and may be further sub-allocated to local public agencies. The tax credits "sub-allocators", as well as the state housing finance agencies award the tax credits to developers. The tax credit is "sold" by the developer to investors, and the proceeds are used as equity to develop, acquire, and/or rehabilitate low- and moderate-income rental housing.
As with all housing providers, public and private, recipients of LIHTC are required to conduct all of their business in accordance with the federal Fair Housing Act. What this means for a LIHTC recipient is that in all housing transactions persons must be treated equally without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, gender, familial status, or disability. However, as a recipient of LIHTC, a housing provider specifically certifies as a condition to receiving credits that it will comply with the Fair Housing Act.
So what does it mean to "specifically certify" one will comply with the Fair Housing Act? Well, as a recipient of LIHTC it means that if the Fair Housing Act is violated, you face possible injunctive and other equitable relief as well as monetary relief (including actual and punitive damages) and also civil penalties. Additionally, LIHTC recipients who are found to be in violation of the Fair Housing Act can lose their LIHTC and also have the credits recaptured - resulting in having to pay back the credits previously received.
The stakes are high; so, it is important to comply! If you are a recipient of LIHTC and are confronted with Fair Housing problems, you can obtain help from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Internal Revenue Services (IRS). The IRS is responsible for administering the tax laws in the LIHTC program. DOJ is responsible for carrying out enforcement activities pursuant to the Fair Housing Act. HUD is responsible for the administrative enforcement of the Fair Housing Act by investigating complaints, attempting settlement, and determining whether reasonable cause exists to believe that a violation of the Fair Housing Act has occurred. All three agencies have entered into an agreement for the purpose of enhancing compliance with the Fair Housing Act among multifamily properties operating with LIHTC for the benefit of their residents, investors, and the general public.
August 21-22, 2003. Community Planning & Development Program held a "Homeless Persons Employment Opportunities" Workshop. This workshop was designed to educate homeless providers and local governments on methods to assist homeless persons find and maintain employment. The workshop was attended by 25 to 30 providers and conducted in cooperation with AIDS Housing of Washington as well as the Corporation for Supportive Housing.
September 17-18, 2003. Community Planning & Development Program held a 2-day workshop with the Corporation for Supportive Housing Workshop on Homeless Programs focusing on housing opportunities, discharge policy, and chronic homeless. The workshop was attended by 30 to 35 providers and government agency representatives. Carol Wilkins, a national expert on homelessness and homeless policies, conducted the workshop.
September 30, 2003. Honolulu Field Office hosted a meeting to help nurture partnerships among agencies, service providers, faith and community groups on expanded opportunities to deliver assistance to the community to address the range of housing needs from homelessness to homeownership.
October 23, 2003 - PATHWAYS TO HOUSING! Sponsored by Kalihi-Palama Health Center, HUD and AIDS Housing of Washington featuring Dr. Sam Tsemberis, the Founder and Executive Director of Pathways to Housing, Inc., an organization based on the belief that housing is a basic right for all people. The training will give direct service staff the tools necessary for attaining housing for individuals who are homeless and dually diagnosed as well as giving feedback regarding the many barriers to housing. For more information and to register, please contact Laura E. Thielen: 791-6344, or by e-mail to email@example.com
October 24-25, 2003 - Can Do Conference. Sponsored by several organizations including the State of Hawaii Council on Developmental Disabilities, which is addressing the needs and issues of persons with disabilities. For more information, please contact Joe Shacter with the DD Council at 586-8100, or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org