DHHL’s Focus on Molokaʻi Projects

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The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) is moving forward on lot development, repair and maintenance projects, special area planning, and the blueprint for future homestead lots on Molokaʻi.

As this edition of Ka Wai Ola focuses on the island of Molokaʻi, we’ll explore homestead initiatives impacting current and future beneficiaries on the island.

Fifty-eight homestead lots in the Nāʻiwa Subdivision are underway with improvements. These parcels were awarded during DHHL’s Accelerated Lots Program in 1986. The project is in the environmental compliance phase with infrastructure construction expected to begin in 2022, provided the remaining funds needed for construction are allocated.

In Ho‘olehua, the Department received funding to complete environmental compliance ahead of design work to subdivide a 35-acre parcel into smaller subsistence agricultural homestead lots for applicants on the waiting list.

The largest repair and maintenance project on the island is DHHL’s two-year mission to upgrade the 80-year-old Ho‘olehua Water System. The $37 million capital improvement project, funded in part by a $19 million allocation from the United States Department of Agriculture, is slightly ahead of schedule at its first two site locations.

Other repair and maintenance projects underway include a new photovoltaic system for the Kūlana ʻŌiwi complex and repairs to the waste lines at the Lanikeha Center. Both projects are anticipated to go out to bid shortly.

A new Veterans and Homestead Residents Center in Ho‘olehua has completed its design phase and a contractor has been selected to put shovel to dirt on the project. The building permit application has been submitted to Maui County for their review and approval.

Along with the physical work being done on the ground, DHHL has met with its Molokaʻi beneficiary community for consultation on a variety of initiatives. Among the largest, was the update to the Molokaʻi Island Plan completed in mid-2020.

One of the priorities in the updated Island Plan was a change in direction for ʻUalapuʻe. At the urging of applicants on the waiting list, DHHL is preparing to conduct due diligence and begin formal environmental compliance and initial steps toward creating a Kuleana Settlement Plan.

The Kuleana Homestead Program was approved by the Hawaiian Homes Commission in 1993 and is intended to rehabilitate Native Hawaiians by providing opportunities for self-sufficiency and self-determination. Under the program, raw land is offered to beneficiaries to live on, grow food to sustain their family, and utilize for economic purposes. Beneficiaries receiving an offer for Kuleana Homestead lots agree to accept unimproved land where they will be responsible for developing water, sewage, solid waste disposal, energy, and communication services.

Applicants on the waiting list also prioritized new residential homesteads east of Kaukanakai in Kapaʻakea. To develop a residential homestead in the area, DHHL will need to acquire additional water credits and develop on-site wastewater facilities. DHHL will continue planning conversations with interested beneficiaries.

The crafting of a Special Area Plan for Mālama Park has also engaged beneficiaries. Ongoing meetings have focused on the conversation and planning for the management of shoreline erosion issues.

DHHL expects to see a significant increase in construction and planning projects throughout the state over the next two years due to a recent increase in funds from the legislature.