Honolulu Field Office Newsletter
Na Hana Ku Aloha
�Achieving Through the Spirit of Aloha�
Volume 4 Issue 3
June is National Homeownership Month. This is the first time that a full month has been dedicated to celebrating, as well as increasing the opportunities for homeownership.
For many Americans, homeownership is part of the American Dream. More Americans own homes today than ever before. While the national homeownership rate is near 68%, the homeownership rate in Hawaii is a little over 55%.
Robert Abad of Makaha purchased a home in August 2001, after chasing his seemingly elusive dream of homeownership for 15 years. His dream came to fruition after participating in HUD's Community Homebuyer Fair held in Waianae Mall last year. His experience of the Fair was that it helped him to focus on identifying the resources he needed to achieve his American Dream.
Communities across Oahu are learning first-hand about the home buying process through a series of free community homebuyer fairs being conducted every Saturday in June. This is the second year of this annual homeownership event. However, this is the first year that the Community Homebuyers Fair will be held on a neighbor island. Maui communities can attend the Community Homebuyer Fair on Saturday July 13, 2002 at the War Memorial Soccer Field from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.
These homebuyer fairs are designed to bring the information to the community in a familiar setting where people feel comfortable talking with professionals from the housing industry. Fair participants are introduced to the various programs and services local organizations and government agencies offer to help people attain the American Dream of homeownership.
Representatives from 16 different housing organizations are on hand to provide information and answer questions from potential first-time homebuyers. Lenders assist with mortgage pre-qualification, offer free credit reports, and respond to financing-related questions. Realtors share their expertise on how to find a home. Non-profit organizations provide 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 discuss fair housing rights, the home buying program for Hawaiian Home Lands, and an array of Government loan programs.
Even our youngest community members have a chance to participate in the homebuyer fairs. A popular station for younger participants is the coloring table. Children and youth do a wonderful job of expressing their creativity and imagination in coloring their dream home.
The Community Homebuyer Fairs are a huge success thanks to all of the participating organizations and sponsors. The Fairs are made possible due to the collaborative efforts and support of all these partners: Alu Like, Catholic Charities Community and Immigrant Services, City and County Fair Housing Office, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, Hawaiian Community Assets, 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, First Hawaiian Bank, Hawaii Community Lending, Hawaii Home Loans, HomeStreet Bank, Irwin Mortgage Corporation and North American Mortgage Company), 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.
On the first day of his two-day trip to Hawaii to commemorate National Homeownership Month, Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary Michael Liu helped bless and break ground for a new home for Donald and Audrey Kalehuawehe, their two daughters and grandchildren.
The new home, located in one of the oldest sections of Maui, was made possible through the FHA 247 Program, which in Hawaii can be used to finance homes in Hawaiian Home Lands subdivisions and Hawaiian Homestead communities. The retired couple worked with Hawaii Community Lending, a new nonprofit mortgage lender that specializes in working with Hawaiian Homestead families. In addition, Central Pacific Bank is providing the construction funds and Countrywide Home Loans is the permanent lender.
On June 13, 2002 Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary Michael Liu announced that HUD has developed two new programs to help provide affordable housing to Native Hawaiians. Liu made his announcement on the grounds of Iolani Palace on the final day of a two-day trip to Hawaii to commemorate National Homeownership Month.
Liu said that some 49 percent of Native Hawaiians experience housing problems as compared to 27 percent for all other U.S. households. Similarly, overcrowding for Native Hawaiians is 36 percent compared to 3 percent for all other households, and 70.8 percent of Native Hawaiians have incomes that fall below the median family income for Hawaii.
"Homeownership strengthens families, strengthens communities," says Liu, "and is critical to the nation's economic health. These two new programs, which are available immediately to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, will have a dramatic impact on the ability of low-income Native Hawaiians to obtain the American Dream."
For the first time since the passage of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, Native Hawaiians will have access to Federal housing block grant funds appropriated solely for the benefit of Native Hawaiians eligible to live on Hawaiian Home Lands. The funding is similar to that that has been available to American Indians and Alaska Natives since 1996.
The Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant Program will provide $9.6 million in housing block grant funds this year to help the DHHL fund affordable housing activities. Another $10 million is included in HUD's fiscal year 2003 budget with the potential for more funding at higher levels in the future.
Liu said the housing block grant is an extremely valuable and versatile tool that can be used for a variety of purposes to meet the individual needs of Native Hawaiians, including:
The second new program, the Section 184A Loan Guarantees for Native Hawaiian Housing, will provide $1 million of Federal loan guarantees to leverage millions of dollars of private mortgage resources to provide Native Hawaiians with greater access to mortgage loans for one- to four-family housing located on Hawaiian Home Lands.
With the greater flexibility of this new Federally-backed loan guarantee program, HUD expects the Section 184A loan guarantee program to enable Native Hawaiians to tap a variety of mortgage financing programs that up to now have not been possible under the Section 247 program. The $1 million in loan guarantee is expected to leverage up to $40 million in mortgage funds.
The loan guarantee program makes available another source of mortgage funds to help low-income Native Hawaiians become homeowners and complements the successful FHA Section 247 program.
Years ago the Palolo Tenants Association (PTA) had a vision to make the Palolo Valley Homes community a better place for the residents and a place that all could be proud to call home. The units were showing the deterioration caused by nearly 50 years of wear and tear and the area was in severe economic and social distress. Two years ago, the PTA, the Housing and Community Development Corporation of Hawaii (HCDCH), and Mutual Housing Association of Hawaii (MHAH) joined forces to restore and revitalize the community. Under the leadership of MHAH, the gears were set in motion to apply the successful Mutual Housing concept to transform the 306-unit state public housing development. Under the Mutual Housing concept, MHAH employs professional property management staff, which works closely with the residents to ensure quality housing over the long term. Residents are actively involved in the day-to-day maintenance as well as setting the overall policies that govern housing operations and the association. MHAH owns the housing development. Although residents cannot buy or sell their units directly, they do have the pride of ownership that is usually associated with traditional home ownership. Residents have a significant voice in decision-making and have a lifetime right to live in the housing.
On June 14, 2002, the PTA, HCDCH, and MHAH celebrated the accomplishments of PTA and MHAH by recognizing the completion of the renovation work on housing units in the first phase of the revitalization plan. Hundreds of participants gathered to congratulate the community and to thank the many funders and partners who helped to make this transformation possible. For more information on Palolo Homes or the Mutual Housing concept, call (808) 733-8650.
On Thursday, June 6, 2002, HUD staff from the Santa Ana Homeownership Center and Hawaii State Office presided at an industry workshop, called "FHA Update 2002", held in Honolulu at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center. There was an excellent turnout of over 100 attendees from across the State, comprised of lenders, appraisers, inspectors, 203(k) consultants as well as staff from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
HUD staff, Penny Schell, Scott Bice, Karen Birdsong and Gayle Ota, discussed HUD's web site, loan limits, monitoring, enforcement, predatory lending, fraud, insuring issues, automated underwriting, upcoming changes, underwriting issues, appraisals, inspections and manufactured housing. We were also pleased to have as guest speakers, Sandy Asato and Francis Apoliona from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. Their presentation included a history of Hawaiian Home Lands, past accomplishments as well as future plans to increase homeownership for their lessees.
This successful workshop was an appropriate event to be included as one of the Hawaii State Office's priority events for June, which is designated by President Bush as "National Homeownership Month".
Mark Chandler, Director of Hawaii's Community Planning and Development (CPD) Division and Lynn Lee, Senior CPD Representative were in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI) in late May. The trip underscored the difficult economic conditions in the Pacific.
Along with other federal and local entities, they participated in an Economic Workshop directed at the Guam and CNMI business community. The focus of the workshop was to present the federal programs that could aid businesses as they weather the economic downturn that has plagued Guam and CNMI in recent years. A combination of military base closures and the poor economic climate in Asia have resulted in fewer jobs and less economic opportunities for these Pacific Island nations.
Participating staff from HUD, USDA Rural Development, the Small
Business Administration and the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic
Development Administration provided general information as well
as individual targeted expertise to workshop participants. It is
hoped that collaboration among federal and local agencies as well
as the business community may provide the stimulus to bring economic
stability to these communities.
On Friday, April 12th, Mark Chandler, Director, Community Planning and Development (CPD) Division, conducted a NRSA Workshop for grantees and non-profit organizations in Honolulu. NRSA is a CPD acronym that stands for Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area and is used within the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.
In recent years, HUD's Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) has stressed a coordinated marshalling of resources to facilitate grantees' ability to engage in comprehensive community revitalization strategies. Comprehensive Community revitalization strategies seek to create partnerships among federal and local governments, the private sector, community organizations and neighborhood residents. The Department seeks to create communities of opportunity in distressed neighborhoods by stimulating the reinvestment of human and economic capital and by economically empowering low-income residents.
The Department recognizes the fundamental necessity of partnering to problem-solve in order to achieve much greater success in our urban revitalization efforts. Having all of the stakeholders, particularly the neighborhood's residents, participate in the development of a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization strategy enhances the chance of being able to successfully implement a NRSA. This is especially so when all of the affected parties are brought into the process from the beginning.
During the Workshop, Chandler discussed the regulatory framework within which the NRSA is created and the benefits that may be available to the community and local government as the result of activities undertaken by and for the residents of the NRSA. He discussed the neighborhoods on Oahu that could potentially qualify as an NRSA and the process that is required to achieve the NRSA designation. Many community groups were represented at the workshop and indicated it was of great benefit in learning to deal with the process of working with both the City and County of Honolulu and with the Federal government.
The HUD Hawaii State Office is partnering with the local offices of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Justice's Weed & Seed Program on a strategy to engage President Bush's "Armies of Compassion." HUD along with the Departments of Labor, Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services have established Centers for Faith-based and Community Initiatives within their departments. The agencies are continuing to reach out to faith-based and community groups by sharing information and available resources. The Federal agencies recently presented a workshop on the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training on Child Care Program.
Robert Kroll, Deputy Administrator for the Southwest Office of Native American Programs (ONAP) in Phoenix, Arizona is on detail to Hawaii. The Southwest Office of Native American Programs has a client base of 165 different Indian tribes in five states: Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.
Bob is currently on loan to Hawaii until August 15, 2002. His assignment is to help the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands implement the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant Program. The Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant Program is a component of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act. (See article on Assistant Secretary Mike Liu's visit to Hawaii).
Francetta White, Desk Officer with Field Operations in the Office of Public & Indian Housing at HUD Headquarters in Washington, D.C., is on special assignment to Hawaii until October 2002. Fran's assignment is to assess the need for a public housing staff person in the Hawaii State Office and to assess the effectiveness of the present arrangement with Public Housing staff located in the San Francisco office.
Fran brings her diverse experience of HUD programs, her current role as a troubleshooter and facilitator in Field Operations, as well as her southern sensibilities - she is originally from Tennessee - to her task.
The HUD Homeownership Team who shaped, facilitated, and helped to conduct the Community Homebuyer Fairs was nominated for the Federal Organizational Excellence Award. The 46th Annual Excellence in Federal Government Awards Program held June 5, 2002 recognized the Team's innovative approach as follows:
The Homeownership Team reinvented traditional approaches to encourage homeownership by providing information direct to the consumer in underserved communities on the programs, opportunities and services available to help low and moderate-income individuals/families prepare for homeownership. The new and effective outreach strategy focused on friendly, grassroots and informal communication to educate and inform minority and first-time homebuyers.
Congratulations to the Homeownership Team members: Claudine Allen, Michael Flores, Lynn Lee, Ramona Mullahey, and Gayle Ota!
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 e-mail to Ramona Mullahey at email@example.com. If you have a new address, please e-mail that information to Ramona or call her at (808) 522-8175, ext. 249. To view this newsletter on the Internet, go to our local website.
Maui Contractors Association 32nd Annual Home Show. 4:30 pm to 9:00 pm on Friday, June 28 and from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm on Saturday, June 29, 2002 at the War Memorial Gymnasium.
Free Community Homebuyer Fairs. On Oahu June 29, 2002 from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon at Waimanalo Elementary & Intermediate School. On Maui July 13, 2002 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm at the War Memorial Soccer Field. For more information, call Claudine Allen at 522-8175, ext. 223.
Hilo Home Improvement Show. 9:30 am to 7:00 pm on Saturday, June 29 and from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on Sunday, June 30, 2002 at Prince Kuhio Plaza.
Accessibility Rights (Section 504) and Workforce Development (Section 3) Training. The Section 504 workshop will be on August 5 & 6, 2002. The Section 3 workshop will be on August 7 and repeated on August 8, 2002. HUD Hawaii State Office -- Space Limited. For more information, call Mark Chandler at 522-8180, ext. 264.