New Hawaiian Homelands Project Will Benefit All

Lehua Averill
Lehua Averill

(KHNL) - Kill two birds with one stone.

That's the goal for the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, as it's close to awarding homes for its latest, biggest project in Kapolei.

"For every affordable home we build, that's one more home that's made available on the affordable market for the non-Hawaiian community," said Micah Kane, director of the Dept. Of Hawaiian Homelands.

The East Kapolei One project is already underway, featuring 350 homes for Native Hawaiian families. It's located across the street from the planned UH West Oahu campus, and will also feature a commerical center and facilities for children.

Kane says it not only gives Native Hawaiians a home, but a community, where they can live, work, play and learn.

"It gives us an opportunity to look beyond just homes, and look at the quality of life issues for everyone," he said.

"I take care of foster children, I have a 6 month old baby right now, and that'll be just perfect," said Jane Lincoln. She's been on the homelands waiting list for more than 25 years, and has already been promised a lot in East Kapolei One.

"I'm excited," Lincoln said. "Can't believe it, that the day has come."

There are more than 18,000 Native Hawaiians currently on the waiting list for homes like these. That sounds like a lot, but the department says it is making a dent.

In the past, they've awarded just over 100 units a year. That number has now jumped to 1200.

"If you can just imagine if we can continue doing this for 5 to 6 years, the kind of impact we can have on the affordable housing market overall, it's gonna be tremendous," said Kane.

"I can't afford to buy a house here in Hawaii," said Lehua Averill. "But with hawaiian homes possible, I can do this."

Averill says her mother was recently awarded a lot, after waiting for more than 50 years.

"She finally has a chance to come back home and actually have a home of her own," said Averill. "More people from the mainland will come back home. This is where we belong. We're supposed to be here."

Work in Kapolei is being done in phases and some parts should be finished starting next August.

The goal for the Hawaiian Homelands department is to keep up that 1200 unit pace for the next five or six years.