Photo: Robin Puanani Danner

The Homestead Community Development Corporation, the nonprofit arm of SCHHA, is employing residents with CARES Act Funding through the end of December. The program, envisioned by homestead associations on Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi Island, is as simple as they come – in a pandemic, in an economic calamity, employment and flowing wages through households flows capital through communities, through counties, and through local business. And employment, even temporary or short-term over a five-month period (limited by the CARES Act funding requirements), can bring incredible prosperity in difficult times!

Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations

So far, the County of Kauaʻi has invested CARES Act funds into the Homestead Job Corps, resulting in Kauaʻi residents being on payroll for up to 20 weeks, with the potential to earn $12,000 for their families while accomplishing amazing, uplifting homestead projects that are so greatly needed.

To date, there are 22 participants from across the county on the job – some college students, some high school students – but most are single unmarried kāne. Eighteen kūpuna’s yards on the homesteads have been cleaned, bringing so much relief and joy to these households. There’s nothing quite like the smile of an elder.

Ditch systems have been cleared, a backyard raised-garden prototype built, socially distanced decking installed for a skate ramp for homestead keiki, COVID-19 improvements to homestead-based business facilities made to help them reopen when the time comes, a beach-front walkway built and so much more. And then there is the team of Homestead Job Corps participants using their skills to establish standard operating procedures to convert the HCDC nonprofit to a paperless operation, establishing telecommute policies, thinking through home office operations and logistics for its offices on Maui, on Kauaʻi, on Oʻahu and in Washington D.C.; installing technology to create efficiencies in the organization including a cloud-based server to enable it to serve its mission of affordable housing and job creation on the homesteads in a changed world due to the pandemic.

The Homestead Job Corps project validates the ingenuity of homestead association leaders as the best source of solutions to any challenge our communities may face – they are the most committed and the most knowledgeable in implementing them, especially on the homesteads – serving everyone. Of the participants, 73% are life-long residents of Kauaʻi and their average age is 31; 68% are male, 77% are single, 27% are either in college or have some college, and 9% have college or vocational degrees.

Mahalo to the County of Kauaʻi and Mayor Kawakami, and a special mahalo to the young men and women who are serving the community while earning wages for their respective families.