Hundreds of Hawaiians may qualify of home-repair loan program here
By LESTER CHANG - TGI Staff Writer
Thursday, Oct 02, 2003
04:46:10 am HST
Department of Hawaiian Home Lands officials have created a
low-interest, home-repair loan program for economically disadvantaged
people who live on lands managed by the agency.
Hundreds of DHHL beneficiaries on Kaua‘i, if they qualify, would stand
to gain from the program.
The program will have a major impact on DHHL beneficiaries and
their families who need assistance the most in maintaining their
homes, Hawaiian Homes Commission Chairman Micah Kane said in a news
The program is supported by federal dollars that are part of DHHL's
recent grant from the Native Hawaiian Housing Assistance Self
Determination Act program.
Related to that program, residents on Kaua‘i and throughout the state
could find it easier to become first-time homebuyers through a measure
approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.
In a news release, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary Mel Martinez praised the House of Representatives for
approving President Bush's request for funds for the "American Dream
Down payment Initiative."
Bush's request for $400 million for fiscal year 2004 and 2005 could
assist 80,000 low-income families nationwide to become homeowners,
according to a news release from HUD.
Through the project, Bush hopes to increase minority homeownership by
5.5 million families by the end of the decade, the release said.
The initiative is aimed at helping first-time buyers with high
downpayments and closing costs, the most significant barriers to
homeownership for such buyers, the release said.
Bush's initiative, if approved by Congress, will provide an average
downpayment assistance grant of $5,000 to low-income families, the
Congress has already appropriated $75 million for the initiative for
fiscal year 2003, and Bush asked for the additional funding to help
American families struggling to buy their first homes, the HUD release
Michael Flores, acting field director of the HUD office in
Honolulu, said it is not known how much of the $400 million could come
to Kaua‘i or Hawai‘i because Congress hasn't taken action on Bush's
"I wish I could say. I don't think it is at the point that the $400
million has been divided among the different communities and among the
He estimated about 30 families in Hawai‘i could be helped with some
funds from the $75 million allotment.
"If the $400 million goes through, if that guess (of 30 Hawai‘i
families who could have been helped with the 2003 allotment) is
accurate, we could expect to help more,"
The Bush program is administered under HUD's Home Investment
To be eligible for the DHHL program for home repairs, household
incomes of DHHL beneficiaries need to be at 80 percent or below a
county median income level, Kane said in a news release. For Kaua‘i
County, the median income is about $50,000.
Interest rates for the loans will be set at 0 percent to 3 percent.
The loans will spread out over a number of years, depending on the
amount that is borrowed and the income of the borrowers, Kane said.
Kupuna, or the elderly, will get a break if they qualify for the
program. Loans made to kupuna who are 62 years of age and older and
whose adjusted household income is at or below 50 percent of the
adjusted gross income will have payments deferred.
If the kupuna remains in the home for the life of the loan, the loan
could be forgiven, he explained.
The loan program will complement existing county home-repair programs
on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu and the
Island. No such program exists on
In the last six months, DHHL staff worked with county officials to
coordinate and implement the DHHL home-repair program, Kane said.
DHHL officials are negotiating an application and processing fee
structure with each county, to be paid by DHHL, Kane said.
Following the negotiations, contracts, or "sub-recipient" agreements,
need to be signed with Kaua‘i, City and County of Honolulu and Big
Island counties before homesteaders can participate in the home-repair
loan program, Kane said.
DHHL officials will be tailoring a program with nonprofit
organizations, Kane said.
"This is a good example of how state and county government can work
together for a common cause without duplicating the service," Kane
Kane said the mayors from each of the counties have been very
supportive in allowing DHHL staffers to develop the program around
existing county home-repair programs.
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