DHHL Expands Hawaiʻi Island Options


Photo: Cedric Duarte

A new year will mean new opportunities for waiting list applicants on Hawaiʻi Island.

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands recently broke ground on the construction of 60 homes within the Villages of Laʻi ʻŌpua in Kealakehe, Hawaiʻi Island, for its second Rent-With-Option-To-Purchase project.

In 2001, DHHL partnered with Mark Development to develop and manage DHHL’s first Rent-With-Option-To-Purchase project in Kapolei, Oʻahu. The Hoʻolimalima Rent-With-Option-To-Purchase pilot project was groundbreaking for its unique use of federal and state low income housing tax credits. The initiative allowed 70 beneficiaries to pay an affordable monthly rent for a single-family home, then assume a 99-year homestead lease at the end of the required 15-year rental period.

DHHL’s Rent-With-Option-To-Purchase product targets qualifying families who earn up to 30 percent, 40 percent, and 60 percent of the area median income. This program differs from a rent-to-own product, where rent will not contribute to the purchase of the home. Instead, the tenant’s Area Median Income (AMI) level at the initial qualification to occupy the units will be the same AMI level used in determining the sale price at the end of the 15 years.

The first 60 homes, a portion of the greater 118-unit Laʻi ʻŌpua Village 4 – ʻĀkau, are anticipated to be offered to beneficiaries in mid-2021. An additional 103 Rent-With-Option-To-Purchase units will be built subsequently to complete Laʻi ʻŌpua Village 4 – ʻĀkau and the current Laʻi ʻŌpua Village 5.

Producing a Rent-With-Option-To-Purchase program requires public and private partnerships to successfully deploy financing tools and tax credits. Laʻi ʻŌpua will use, in part, federal and state low-income housing tax credit equity secured by Hunt Capital Partners, in collaboration with Ikaika ʻOhana and Urban Housing Communities. Coastal Construction Co. is acting as the project’s general contractor with architectural firm Design Partner, Inc. ThirtyOne50 Management will function as the rental property manager.

The project will provide affordable single-family rental homes for DHHL undivided interest lessees and waiting list applicants who may convert their rental into a 99-year homestead lease after 15 years.

In addition to kicking off the new year with the Rent-With-Option-To-Purchase product, DHHL will soon be breaking ground on Hawaiʻi Island for its new subsistence agricultural pilot projects in Honomū and Panaʻewa.

Cedric R. Duarte is the Information & Community Relations Officer for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. He has worked in communications and marketing since 1999 and is a longtime event organizer. A product of the Kamehameha Schools and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, he resides in ʻAiea with his wife and two daughters.