Honolulu Field Office Newsletter
Winter 2003

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

Volume 6 Issue 1

President Bush Signs American Dream Downpayment Act

In a move to help more families achieve the American Dream of homeownership, in mid-December, President Bush signed the American Dream Downpayment Act into law. The Act will provide a maximum downpayment assistance grant of either $10,000 or six percent of the purchase price of the home, whichever is greater, to program eligible low-income clients. By Spring 2004, the program will be funded at nearly $200 million and administered under HUD's HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME). Since its inception, the HOME Program has played a vital role in addressing the lack of affordable rental housing inventory and the gap in homeownership in communities nationwide. Information about the American Dream Downpayment Act is available on the HUD website, or you may contact the staff in the Honolulu Field Office's Community Planning and Development (CPD) division at (808) 522-8180, ext. 261.

Hawaii Agencies Receive $7,183,292 in Grants

GranteeHUD ProgramDescriptionGrant Amount
Institute for Human Services

Housing Counseling

Rental pre-occupancy counseling

$34,000

Legal Aid Society of Hawaii
Housing CounselingComprehensive Counseling &
Section 8 Homeownership
$40,000
$23,050
Hawaii County Housing Agency
Family Self-SufficiencyJob preparedness$62,500
City & County of Honolulu
Family Self-SufficiencyJob preparedness$95,584
Kauai County Housing Agency
Family Self-SufficiencyJob preparedness$56,758
Pacific Housing Assistance Corporation
Supportive Housing for Elderly20 apartments for very low-income elderly in Kapolei, Oahu$3,983,300
Hale MahaoluSupportive Housing for Elderly
5 apartments for very low-income elderly in Kihei, Maui$995,900
Steadfast Housing Development CorporationSupportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities10 units of independent housing$1,892,200
Affordable Housing & Homeless AllianceHomeless Technical AssistanceTA on demand response$16,000
AIDS Housing Of WashingtonHomeless Technical AssistanceTA on demand response$24,000
Rural Community Assistance Corporation

CHDO TA

HOME TA

TA for Community Housing Development Organizations
TA on Housing strategies
$45,000

$40,000

HCDCH Receives Technology Center Grant

HUD Assistant Secretary Michael Liu joined Chuck Sted, Chairman of the Housing and Community Development Corporation of Hawaii (HCDCH) Board of Directors, and other partners and guests on October 30 in announcing the award of $250,000 to HCDCH for a new computer technology center. The center will be located at the newly opened Ka Hale O Kameha`ikana Community Resource Center at Kuhio Park Terrace, Hawaii's largest public housing project.

The funds are part of the Neighborhood Networks component of the HUD Resident Opportunities and Self Sufficiency (ROSS) program. The new grant will be used to assist residents of Kuhio Park Terrace and Kuhio Homes to obtain jobs and increase earnings. The proposed program will focus on:

  • Ongoing outreach to the resident population
  • Providing basic academic and workplace skills, including English as a Second Language, which are needed for entry into a vocational training program
  • Vocational training for entry-level technical careers, and
  • Placement of the vocational training graduates into jobs.

"The Bush Administration and Secretary Mel Martinez are committed to helping public housing and other low-income families become self-sufficient," Liu said. "The ROSS programs links public housing residents with supportive services, resident empowerment activities, and assistance in becoming economically self-sufficient. This program is consistent with HUD's goal to more effectively focus resources on welfare-to-work and independent living for the elderly and persons with disabilities."

Ka Hale O Kameha`ikana, opened on July 3, 2003 and houses several nonprofit and government organizations offering supportive services: the Windward Community College culinary arts training program, the Samoan Service Providers Association entrepreneurial and economic development programs, and Parents and Children Together (PACT) Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

The Bank of Hawaii has committed over $10,000 in funding to the Technology Center program. PACT will provide more than $200,000 in services to Technology Center students via counseling services for participants and childcare and education for the children of participants. For information about the Technology Center program, contact Jeanne Hamilton of HCDCH at (808) 587-3182.

HCDCH Awarded $300,000 to Assist the Elderly

The Housing and Community Development Corporation of Hawaii (HCDCH) is the recipient of a grant for $300,000 to provide supportive services for the elderly and persons with disabilities living at the Punchbowl Homes and Pumehana housing developments. HCDCH, in partnership with Honolulu Gerontology Child and Family Services, will use these funds to help residents obtain personal assistance with daily activities, transportation to medical appointments and shopping and establish health and wellness programs in the community. This is the second year that HCDCH has received a grant under the Resident Service Delivery Model for the Elderly and Disabled component of HUD's $44 million Resident Opportunities and Self-Sufficiency Program. Last year, HCDCH received $300,000 for its program to provide supportive services and service coordination at its Kalakaua Homes, Makua Alii, and Paoakalani complex. For information about the grant, contact Jeanne Hamilton of HCDCH at (808) 587-3182.

HCDCH Appoints New Leadership Team

At its special meeting on December 1, the Board of Directors of the Housing and Community Development Corporation of Hawaii (HCDCH) appointed Stephanie Aveiro as the new Executive Director of HCDCH and Pamela Dodson as the new Executive Assistant. Ms. Aveiro was most recently Governor Linda Lingle's representative on the HCDCH Board and the Governor's special assistant overseeing Washington Place. Ms. Aveiro was also the Director of the Department of Housing and Human Concerns for the County of Maui and Executive Director of the Hawaii Medical Association. Pamela Dodson was the Executive Assistant to the Governor in the Office of Collective Bargaining where she assisted the chief negotiator with public union contract negotiations. She was formerly the marketing manager of the Maui Arts and Cultural Center; and prior to that position, she was Executive Assistant to Governor Lingle when Ms. Lingle was Mayor of the County of Maui.

The Board also commended Bob Hall for his leadership, over this past year, in his capacity as acting Executive Director. Mr. Hall was a 25-year employee with HCDCH and its predecessor agencies. He is currently with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. For more information on HCDCH, visit its website (http://www.hcdch.state.hi.us/hcdch1.html).

Assistant Secretary Liu Hand Delivers Funds to City

During his October 29, 2003 visit to Hawaii, Michael Liu, HUD Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing and a former Hawaii State Representative, presented the City and County of Honolulu with a check for $17.8 million. Included in the funding package are program funds distributed as follows: $12.1 million in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), $4.8 million in HOME, $450,000 in Emergency Shelter Grants, and $445,000 in Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS.

YouthBuild Honolulu Partners with Grace Chapel of Honolulu

by Lei Nakamura, Youth Services Center Manager, City & County of Honolulu

In September 2003, 15 YouthBuild Honolulu participants conducted their monthly community service project at a very unique site, the grounds of Grace Chapel located in East Honolulu. This service project, which involved landscaping and lots of "fun and grinds", was the beginning of a partnership that will make a difference and benefit both parties.

YouthBuild Honolulu is an educational and job training program administered by the City and County of Honolulu's Department of Community Services. The program provides economically disadvantaged youth and young adults (ages 16-24 years) the opportunity to obtain an educational experience that enhances their employability, develops leadership skills, encourages responsibility, and helps to nurture maturity. One of the ways their leadership skills are developed is through the building of permanent housing for homeless, low- and very low-income families and performing monthly service projects.

Grace Chapel of Honolulu, associated with the Living Word Fellowship churches, has served Hawaii's young people and their families since 1953. Individual integrity, family wholeness, and fulfilling, honest, and loving relationships are the focus of the 80-member congregation's activities and daily lifestyle. The church's young people are self-sufficient, responsible, and very involved in every aspect of its operation. Many of them are in their early twenties, and therefore, provide excellent role models and friendly, peer level support that YouthBuild students can relate to and enjoy.

Less than a year ago, the church moved from a small downtown Honolulu property to two acres, on Kalanianaole Highway that was formerly used as a tennis club. One of the church's goals is to restore this very unique place as a Hawaiian environment with the cultural values regarding the relationship between ocean and land. A contractor who had excavated four of the six tennis courts, left on the property gravel, sand, and depleted soil, which had been under concrete for 20 years. Although the expertise of the University of Hawaii extension service and professional landscapers in the congregation will be tapped, much work will be required of Church members.

YouthBuild students can participate and help with digging, watering, fertilizing, raking, and planting. Grace Chapel can offer services, including mentoring youth who need one-on-one guidance and encouragement, tutoring, or landscaping training activities. In return, the Church members receive the opportunity to help these youth and young adults gain self-respect, a feeling of belonging to the community, and hope for a better future.

The program's unique partnership with Grace Chapel will make a big difference in the lives of the YouthBuild participants. The YouthBuild students look forward to making a difference for the Church as well. And, we both look forward to working and growing together in ways that build and benefit our island community.

Homeless Forum

Each year in November, Hawaii holds an annual Homeless Forum as part of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. About 50 people participated in this year's forum, which was held at the State Capitol. Participants listened to issues related to what its like to be homeless, to work with the homeless, and to live outside mainstream society. The forum was sponsored by Partners in Care (PIC), a network of service providers and agencies serving the homeless and the community. Thank you to Partners in Care for planning the week's events, which focused attention on the homeless issue in Hawaii.

Housing First

In November, Dr. Sam Tsemberis, Founder and Executive Director of Pathways to Housing, Inc., a nonprofit in New York, shared his "Housing First" program experience with nearly 100 homeless advocates and caseworkers. Pathways to Housing is based on the belief that housing is a basic right for all people and offers immediate access to permanent housing to the homeless. The program was awarded first prize in the competition sponsored by Eli Lilly Foundation and several special achievement awards.

Dr. Tsemberis faced numerous challenges in New York when he launched Pathways to Housing. He started out with 50 apartments and a $500,000 grant from the New York State Office of Mental Health. Today, the grants exceed $7 million, the program works with more than 200 landlords, and more than 80 percent of its clients remain off the streets. Thanks to the efforts of Kalihi-Palama Heath Care for the Homeless, Dr. Tsemberis was able to provide information to help launch Hawaii's "housing first" program.

Can Do Conference

The annual Can Do Conference was held on October 24 and 25 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel. The annual conference is an excellent resource for persons with disabilities, nonprofit organizations, advocates, and government agencies to learn more about the needs of persons with disabilities and opportunities available to address those needs. One workshop session, facilitated by Michael Flores, Director of the Office of Public Housing for the HUD Honolulu Field Office, focused on Opportunities for Housing Persons with Disabilities. Panelists included Judy Pulido, Family Self Sufficiency Coordinator for the City and County of Honolulu's Section 8 Program; Sandy Toma, Section 8 Administrator for the City; Bernie Miranda, Housing Director for the Mental Health Division of the State Department of Health; and Pat Lockwood, Executive Director of the Hawaii Centers for Independent Living. The purpose of the panel discussion was to share success stories on what works in helping low-income persons and persons with disabilities find housing and to suggest alternative housing options for persons with disabilities. For more information on resources for persons with disabilities, visit the Real Choices website (http://www.realchoices.org).

Reasonable Accommodations Under The Fair Housing Act

In 1988 the Fair Housing Act was amended. Several changes to this law provided additional protection for persons with both mental and physical disabilities. Under the Fair Housing Act, a disability is defined as: a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (i.e., walking, talking, hearing, seeing, etc.); having a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment. The law prohibits treating a person with a disability differently or unequally in most residential real estate transactions.

Additionally, the Fair Housing Act allows a person with a disability to request a change in rules, policies, practices, procedures, or services in residential real estate transactions when such changes may be necessary to allow the person with the disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. Such requests are called "reasonable accommodations" and they cannot be ignored or flat-out refused by a housing provider. Neither can a housing provider claim ignorance of a person's disability to support a refusal to grant a reasonable accommodation if the housing provider knew or should have known of the person's disability.

Generally, a person with a disability must let the housing provider know that he or she has a disability and that a specific accommodation is needed. Also, the person making the request must provide sufficient details to show that the requested change is related to his or her disability. Usually, a letter from a doctor, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, or other knowledgeable health care provider will be sufficient to verify a person's disability status and to establish a connection between the requested accommodation and the person's disability.

In response to a request for a reasonable accommodation, a housing provider should carefully consider the request before deciding to approve or disapprove it. In considering such a request, a housing provider can ask for further information about the disability status of the person making the request. The housing provider may also verify that the accommodation requested will actually meet the need of the person with the disability. However, housing providers are not allowed to have access to a person's medical records or to have a person's complete medical history. It is permissible for the housing provider to speak with the person's doctor or health care provider and ask questions in order to verify and substantiate information that has been provided.

In making a decision whether or not an accommodation will be permitted, a housing provider cannot refuse an accommodation on the grounds that the housing provider feels or believes that the requested change would not best meet the needs of the person with the disability. Legitimate reasons for not allowing a requested accommodation generally include factors that indicate that the request is not reasonable. For example, accommodations, which would constitute a direct threat to the health and safety of others, can be denied. Also requests, which would impose an unreasonable financial or administrative burden upon the housing provider, do not have to be approved. Likewise, accommodations that would constitute fundamental alterations or changes in the nature of the housing provider's business do not have to be allowed. In all cases, a decision to deny a reasonable accommodation must be supported by current, credible, and objective documentation.

When you are faced with making a decision regarding a request for a reasonable accommodation, you should carefully give meaningful consideration to all of the factors involved. Always keep in mind that the law allows for such accommodations. Consequently, an improper refusal could constitute a violation of the law and someone's civil rights. If you are confronted with making such a weighty decision, you can contact one of the several fair housing professionals if you need further assistance. At the HUD Honolulu Field Office, contact Jelani Madaraka, Lead Civil Rights Analyst at (808) 522-8182, ext 269.

Hawaii HomeOwnership Center Opens Its Doors

Families with the dream to one day become homeowners now have an ally to help them achieve that dream. The long-awaited grand opening of the Hawaii HomeOwnership Center (HHOC) took place on October 24. Gary Kai of HomeStreet Bank, president of the Board of the HHOC, and Kendall Hirai, Executive Director, welcomed guests to the HHOC offices located in the Gentry Pacific Design Center on Nimitz Highway. The HHOC is a one-stop shop that will offer homebuyer education, housing counseling, information on mortgage financing, and more to help Hawaii's families become homeowners.

Hawaii has one of the lowest homeownership rates in the country at 57.4% (New York at 55.0% is the only State with a lower homeownership rate than Hawaii). Nationally, two out of three families own their own homes. In Hawaii, only a little over half of the families are homeowners. There are many reasons why Hawaii's homeownership rate trails the national average, including lack of understanding of the homebuying process, poor credit, and no downpayment. The HHOC will help families assess their situation and set them on a path for success. For more information on the HHOC, including a schedule of classes, visit their website (http://www.hihomeownership.org) or call them at 523-9500.

New FHA Mortgage Limits for County of Hawaii

FHA maximum mortgage limits for the County of Hawaii was raised effective November 21, 2003:

One-Family unit:
Two-Family unit:
$211,580
$238,600
Three-Family unit:
Four-Family unit:
$289,900
$334,500

Correction on Fall 2003 HUD Newsletter

The Home Start Plus, a program of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle, mentioned in the article "Achieving the American Dream", helps households who receive public assistance by matching their savings $2 for every $1 up to $10,000. The grants cover down payment and/or closing costs.

Calendar of Events

February 19-20, 2003. 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Grant Writing Workshop. Central Union Church. This free, two-day training is presented by HUD's Center for Faith-based and Community Initiative. Topics include: What are HUD's resources, how to access HUD resources, where additional funding is available, what are the do's and don'ts. For information, contact Ramona Mullahey (ramona_mullahey@hud.gov) at (808) 522-8185, ext. 249.

Wishing all of you a wonderful holiday season with good health and happiness into the New Year!

 
Content Archived: December 19, 2011