The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) received the 2018 Native Hawaiian Housing Award at the 17th Annual Native Hawaiian Convention, hosted by the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) at the Waikīkī Prince Hotel in October. OHA was recognized for its long-term commitment to addressing the housing needs of the Native Hawaiian community. The award was accepted by OHA Chair Colette Machado.
“One of the highest priorities for our beneficiaries is to be able to live and raise their ‘ohana in our kulāiwi (homeland),” said OHA Chair Machado. “Unfortunately, this is becoming increasingly difficult as the cost of living in Hawai‘i continues to soar.”
CNHA and the housing non-profit organization Hawaiian Community Assets (HCA) have given out the Native Hawaiian Housing Award every year since 2008. In recognizing OHA, HCA noted that OHA’s $1.5 million investment in HCA housing programs since 2011 has helped 338 Native Hawaiian households obtain rentals, purchase homes and prevent foreclosures. This has resulted in stable housing for 1,251 Native Hawaiian adults and children.
“Without OHA’s consistent support, HCA could not help those families that need it most,” said Lahela Williams, HCA deputy director. “We are so pleased to give OHA our highest honor, the Native Hawaiian Housing Award this year, and look forward to a continued partnership in addressing Hawai‘i’s housing and economic self-sufficiency needs.”
The Josue ‘ohana is one such success story resulting from HCA programs funded by OHA. With the help of HCA, Doug and Anuhea Josue and their four keiki went from homelessness to homeownership in five years.
“We want to say thank you to OHA and HCA,” said Anuhea Josue. “Thank you, because we are able to stay in Hawai‘i and not move away.”
OHA’s funding for HCA represents just a fraction of the agency’s total investment in housing and housing stability programs for Native Hawaiians. From FY11 through FY19, OHA has provided more than $40 million in funding to support efforts to:
- Provide emergency financial assistance to families in need;
- Build affordable homes;
- Administer and subsidize transitional shelters;
- Help low-income ‘ohana rent homes and become first-time homebuyers;
- Build the economic self-sufficiency of homeless and at-risk individuals and families; and
- Develop infrastructure for Department of Hawaiian Home Lands affordable housing projects.
“CNHA is pleased to kāko‘o (support) Hawaiian Community Assets in recognizing OHA for their commitment and dedication to investing financial resources towards housing opportunities for Native Hawaiian families,” said Kūhiō Lewis, CNHA CEO. “As a member organization, HCA has done a phenomenal job in lending their culturally relevant financial literacy and housing readiness expertise to CNHA, our membership and most importantly, our people.”
“We mahalo CNHA and HCA for recognizing our efforts to meet one of our community’s most critical needs. While we are proud to support housing and housing stability programs for Native Hawaiians, we understand that much more needs to be done,” added Chair Machado.