The Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations (SCHHA) completed a six-month consultation project with native Hawaiians as defined in the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 (HHCA). The HHCA was enacted by the U.S. Congress to set aside 203,000 acres of land to issue lots to eligible Hawaiians for residential, farming, ranching and mercantile purposes.
In 1959, through the Hawaiʻi Admissions Act, state government was mandated to administer the day-to-day functions of the land trust with federal oversight. Today, 28,700 people remain on the waitlist for a land award.
Act 279, enacted by the legislature in May 2022, appropriates $600 million in flexible funding to address the waitlist of the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL). SCHHA, the largest coalition of HHCA beneficiaries, has delivered its spending plan recommendations in a final 15-page report to Gov. Josh Green and the Hawaiʻi State Legislature.
“It’s an extraordinary vision by the Hawaiʻi Legislature,” said SCHHA Policy Committee Chairperson Kipukai Kualii. “Our work product attempts to honor that vision and leverage every dollar to issue more land awards and build and acquire housing units. Mahalo to the hundreds of minds and hands in the production of this plan.”
Community leaders began meeting on May 19, 2022, followed by several meetings with industry experts, unions, mortgage lenders and realtors, builders and developers. The last in-person policy convenings was held on Nov. 19 on Oʻahu.
“We spent six months in community-based organizing,” said SCHHA Policy Analyst Rolina Faagai, who also serves as vice chair of the nonprofit community development financial institution (CDFI), Hawaiian Lending & Investments (HLI). “This spending plan suggests allocations of capital for maximum leveraging for maximum impact to the waitlist and the Hawaiʻi housing crisis.”
A list of 10 action items is included for Green to clear barriers to the flow of housing capital and housing development. For example, community leaders recommend the opening of a homestead building permit office at DHHL, capital investment to quicken additional dwelling units on existing homesteads, subsidies to buy or build rental housing, and direct acquisition of buildable lots and large land acreages from the private sector, increasing the size of the land trust.
A public-private partnership, the plan approaches housing development by leveraging public Act 279 capital with private mortgage and commercial finance capital to purchase and build housing units. The plan supports lot development through dedicating Act 279 funding to improve DHHL’s capacity to successfully deploy CIP Bond Capital for lot infrastructure projects on a year-over-year basis.
“This plan leverages, builds and acquires,” Kualii added. “We want to move capital, to move land and housing, to move the waitlist, all within commonsense strategies given the current economic environment of inflation, and also contribute solutions to the overall housing crisis in the State of Hawaiʻi. We hope many of our concepts will be given sincere consideration by Gov. Green.”
“The recommendations contained in this Beneficiary $600 million Spending Plan embodies the best of citizen civic engagement and Indigenous self-determination,” said Maui County Councilwoman and HHCA Beneficiary Tasha Kama. “Nothing about us, without us.”
SCHHA’s $600 million Spending Plan was delivered to Green on Dec. 5. Act 279 stipulated that DHHL provide a plan to the legislature by Dec. 10.
For a copy of the plan or more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.