Honolulu Field Office Newsletter
Summer 2001

Na Hana Ku Aloha
´┐ŻAchieving Through the Spirit of Aloha´┐Ż

Volume 3 Issue 4

Hawaii Awarded Rural Housing Grant

Na'alehu Theatre will receive a Rural Housing and Economic Development capacity building grant for $89,780. One of the priority needs identified in the 1998 Economic Development Plan for the District of Ka'u is basic infrastructure development such as water. Na'alehu represents 25% of the total population for Ka'u.

The grant will be used to provide technical support for the formation of a self-sustaining, community-based water board, to develop a consensus for a water distribution plan, and to implement water projects. Community water training will include management and policy development skills for exercising wise use of water resources. Na'alehu Theatre will serve as the initial Fiscal Agent for the start-up.

Grant funds will also be used to establish and oversee youth apprenticeship programs. The closure of the sugar plantation in 1996 created tremendous economic hardship for Ka'u. The unemployment rate for Ka'u, as of the 1999 Census data, is 12.7%. The area has a poverty rate above 20%. Na'alehu Theatre has had a business incubator project for five years providing services to would-be non-profit organizations. Apprenticeship training will include food service, marketing, theatre production, and museum care taking.

For more information, contact: Chelle Shand, Executive Director, Na'alehu Theatre, at (808) 929-9133.

Community Homebuyer Fairs: Making Homeownership A Reality

Communities across Oahu learned first-hand about the home buying process through a series of free community homebuyer fairs which were conducted every Saturday in June. These homebuyer fairs were designed to bring the information to the community in a familiar setting where people would feel comfortable talking with professionals from the housing industry. Fair participants were introduced to the various programs and services local organizations and government agencies offer to help people attain the American Dream of homeownership.

Representatives from 14 different housing organizations were on hand to provide information and answer questions from potential first-time homebuyers. Lenders assisted with mortgage pre-qualifications, offered free credit reports, and responded to financing-related questions. Realtors shared their expertise on how to find a home. Non-profit organizations provided information about self-help housing projects, homebuyer education classes, one-on-one housing counseling services, and individual development savings accounts. Local, State, and Federal government agencies discussed fair housing rights, the home buying program for Hawaiian Home Lands, and an array of Government loan programs.

Even our youngest community members had a chance to participate in the homebuyer fairs. A popular station for younger participants was the coloring contest for those 17 years and under. Children and youth did a wonderful job of expressing their creativity and imagination in coloring their dream home. The judges had a tough job of selecting only two winners for each homebuyer fair. Contest winners were treated to pizza from California Pizza Kitchen and two free movie tickets courtesy of one of the Fair's participating lenders.

The Community Homebuyer Fairs were a huge success thanks to all of the participating organizations and sponsors. The Fairs were made possible due to the collaborative effort and support of all these partners: Catholic Charities Community and Immigrant Services, City and County of Honolulu, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, Honolulu Board of Realtors, Honolulu Habitat for Humanity, Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, Mortgage Bankers Association of Hawaii (with special thanks to American Savings Bank, Bank of Hawaii, Central Pacific Bank, City Bank, and Irwin Mortgage Corporation), Nanakuli Neighborhood Housing Services, PEMCO, Ltd., Self-Help Housing Corporation of Hawaii, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Waimanalo Community Development Corporation of Hawaii, and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Section 8 Waiting List Reopened

At long last, the City and County of Honolulu Section 8 program has reopened its waiting list and is accepting new applications for its Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program effective Monday, June 25, 2001. Applications will be accepted in the order received. The Section 8 office is located at 842 Bethel Street. Applications are available from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Applications will also be available for pick up only at all Satellite City Halls and WorkHawaii/Oahu Worklinks One-Stop Centers. For further information, call the Section 8 Office at 527-5974 (or TTY: 527-5947).

New Homeownership Voucher Pilot to be Launched

An 11-state pilot program (Hawaii is not a participant) called Project Access, will allow disabled families with incomes up to 99% of area median to use Section 8 vouchers, previously used only for renting, for homeownership. Families will be able to purchase a modest home without paying more than 30% of their income for homeownership expenses.

The states selected to participate include: Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. The first vouchers are to be distributed within the next three months.

HUD will be partnering with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to implement this program. HUD will provide the vouchers and technical assistance, and DHHS will help voucher holders make the transition to community living arrangements.

Down Payment Assistance Grants for Section 8 Homeownership

On June 13, 2001, HUD published proposed rules to allow PHAs to offer down payment assistance grants as a part of its Section 8 Homeownership program. Under the Housing Choice Voucher Program, a PHA may, in lieu of paying a monthly homeownership assistance payment on behalf of a family, provide homeownership assistance for the family in the form of a single grant to be used toward the down payment required in connection with the purchase of a home. The grant may not exceed an amount equal to the sum of the assistance payments that would be made during a family's first year of assistance.

HUD Announces 3rd Round of EZ

HUD is excited about two competitions that will assist distressed communities throughout the country. In May 2001, HUD invited urban and rural communities to apply for 40 new urban and rural designations as Renewal Communities (RCs) and seven additional urban designations as Empowerment Zones (EZs). The applications are due in September and the designations will be made in December, 2001. The RC and EZ designations will be worth over $22 billion in tax incentives to businesses that locate or expand in RC- or EZ-designated communities.

This is the first year that the RC designation is being offered. The EZ designation is being offered for the third time. For Round II, groups from Oahu, Molokai, Kauai and Kau on the island of Hawaii submitted applications to be designated as a Federal EZ. Molokai was designated as an Enterprise Community and Kauai and Kau were invited to be Champion Communities. Empower Oahu, the group that submitted the Round II application, will be trying again for the urban designation in Round III. For more information on RCs and EZs, visit the HUD website or call (808) 522-8185 ext. 246.

Feds, State and Counties Collaborate on Economic Summits

Small business owners and representatives of community-based nonprofit economic development groups throughout the State will have an opportunity this fall to participate in half-day conferences on their islands to hear about resources available to help small business and nonprofit groups start or grow their business and projects. The conferences will also cover how to work though the maze of regulatory requirements, how to market your products, and how to produce effective business plans. Agencies and organizations will also be staffing information tables to share material and help answer questions of the Summit participants. The Summits are planned for September 12 in Hilo, September 13 in Kona, September 18 on Maui, September 19 on Kauai, and September 20 on Oahu. For more information on the Summits, call (808) 522-8185 ext. 246.

HUD Community Builder Nominated

Former HUD Community Builder, Michael Liu has been nominated by President Bush for the position of HUD Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing. Currently a Senior Vice President and Community Investment Officer for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, Liu has served in a variety of capacities in State and Federal government.

Census 2000 Workshops: Making it Count for Hawaii

HUD coordinated seven statewide workshops from June 19-21, 2001 on Census 2000, in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, Los Angeles Regional Office. The workshops focused on how to use census data in funding proposals, with the goal of attracting more Federal funds to Hawaii.

Jerry Wong, Information Services Specialist from the Census Bureau presented current data for each County, hands-on pointers on how to navigate the Census Bureau web site (www.census.gov), and discussed possible trends. University of Hawaii Professor, Jon Okamura provided his insights on the impact of changing demographic data on Hawaii at the workshop held at the HUD main conference room.

Local sponsors and hosts included Congressman Neil Abercrombie, Kauai Community College with the County of Kauai Office of Economic Development, Windward Community College, Leeward Community College, Hawaii Community College, University of Hawaii Center-West Hawaii, Empower Oahu, and Waipahu Community Association.

Jerry Wong's presentation will be available on the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism website under "Workshop/ presentations /training modules" by July 15.

Waianae Dedicates Community Resource Center

Kupuna along the Waianae coast now have a resource center right in their backyard. On May 31, 2001, the Waianae Coast Coalition (WCC) dedicated its new community resource center as a one-stop shop for senior citizens to receive information on programs and services available to them. One room in the office of the WCC has been designated as the Kupuna resource center with a library of books, videotapes, and other forms of informational material on subjects appropriate for senior citizens. WCC is also a HUD Community Resource Partner. Residents of the Waianae coast can obtain information on HUD programs and services at the WCC Office. WCC is located in the Waianae Satellite City Hall and can be reached at 696-1217.

Weed and Seed Receives State Funding

Acting Governor Mazie Hirono signed into law Senate Bill 1365 on June 25, 2001, approving $350,000 of state funds to support the expansion of the successful Weed and Seed initiative in additional communities throughout the State. A federal initiative of the U.S. Department of Justice, Weed and Seed has helped to reduce crime significantly in the Kalihi-Palama-Chinatown area and is now having the same impact in Waipahu. Communities interested in the Weed and Seed initiative should contact Maile Kanemaru, Weed and Seed Coordinator at 543-2216.

Faith-Based Survey Initiated

A recent community assets survey has revealed information on some of the services that local faith-based groups are providing for Hawaii's communities. Over 100 churches responded to an informal survey developed by HUD staff in this initial phase of a project that reflects a unique partnership with HUD, State of Hawaii Volunteer Services (SVS), and the Brigham Young University-Hawaii Campus. SVS did the outreach to faith groups, and students of a Social Work class in "Social Research Methods" at BYU analyzed and summarized the available data under the tutelage of Professor Derrick Tollefsen.

The purpose of the project is to identify a resource network of faith-based programs available to help individuals and families in need and will be affected by the termination of funding assistance due to welfare reform legislation.

The participating churches represented a small sample of faith groups located throughout the State. Based on the survey questions, providing food (and meals) for the hungry, clothing people in need, and monetary contributions are the prime socially-oriented services that these respondent groups are contributing to support their communities. About 25% also provided support services to the elderly, volunteer community service, furniture and other furnishings for low-income families and materials and supplies for social service providers.

BYU students are planning to continue surveying faith groups, expand the outreach, and hopefully, bring groups together in the next semester as part of Tollefsen's long-term commitment to the project. The results will be published for distribution among agencies throughout the state.

Staff Corner

Jelani Madaraka is our new Lead Civil Rights Analyst for the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Program in the Hawaii State HUD Office. Jelani spent the last 7 years in the Southeast/Caribbean HUD office working most of that time in the Fair Housing Division, except for the last year where he concentrated on Labor Relations. Jelani is originally from Long Island, New York but also has strong family ties to the Caribbean Islands. Jelani first came to HUD as an intern while in law school. Prior to that he worked in the field of labor-management relations. Over the years, Jelani has worked with various local and state government agencies in New York and Georgia. Now that he is "finally" here in Hawaii, Jelani is extremely happy to help further fair housing and equal opportunity so that "all who are imprisoned by unlawful acts of discrimination can be freed." Please extend a warm welcome to Jelani Madaraka.

We appreciate any comments or input you have about our quarterly newsletter, Na Hana Ku Aloha. You may send your comments and input on information you would like covered in this newsletter by sending an email to Ramona Mullahey (ramona_mullahey@hud.gov). If you have a new address, please email that information to Ramona or call her at 522-8175, ext. 249.

Calendar of Events

August 15-17, 2001
Intergenerational Conference - "Bridging Cultures for Intergenerational Collaborations", State Capitol, Nominal fee.
Contact: Mae Mendelson at 261-7838
September 17 & 18, 2001
Accessibility Design Workshop - "Fair Housing Accessibility Design Workshop", 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., featuring guest speaker Mark Mazz, an accessibility design architect currently with the Department of Justice. Workshop is for architects, planners, builders. Fee.
Contact: Ramona Mullahey at 522-8185 ext. 249
September 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 2001
Economic Summits - 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. September 12 in Hilo, September 13 in Kona, September 18 on Maui, September 19 on Kauai, and September 20 on Oahu. Nominal fee.
Contact: Mike Flores at 522-8185 ext. 246 or Lynn Lee at 522-8185 ext. 239
October 18-19, 2001  Brownfield Conference - "Brownfields Hawaii 2001", 8:15 a.m.-4:15 p.m., Hilton Hawaiian Village-Coral Ballroom. Topics include brownfields liability, assessment/clean-up, emerging brownfield developers, and financing reuse. Brownfields Site Tour, October 19. Fee.
Contact: Nadia of DBEDT at 587-2778

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Content Archived: December 19, 2011