A Historic Partnership Gives Hope to Native Hawaiians

Shirley Swinney
Shirley Swinney

KAPOLEI (KHNL) -- A historic partnership gives hope to native Hawaiians looking for a home of their own. The State Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs come together, to provide affordable homes for native Hawaiians.

Up to $40 million in revenue bonds are now in the state's construction budget. That means a bunch of new homestead homes will be popping up throughout the state.

Thursday's news means as many as 500 native Hawaiians will join the ranks of our state's homeowners by the end of 2009. And on this island, the Kapolei area will see a dramatic change.

A year from now, an empty field off of Kapolei parkway could look a lot like this Hawaiian homestead neighborhood just blocks away.

"It was more than we could hope for, but it was a partnership that was long overdue," said Shirley Swinney, a Hawaiian homestead owner.

More than 400 brand new homestead homes will go up in the next 18 months, thanks to a partnership between the State Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

"I felt a special sense of happiness," said Swinney. "Not just for myself but really for those who have not gotten their homesteads yet, but who are waiting on that list, and are now even closer to realizing the dream of home ownership."

Besides being a place to live, this will also be a place to learn. Right behind me is the site of the University of Hawaii's West Oahu campus.

And Kamehameha schools is planning to open a campus in Kapolei. The goal is to nurture and educate the next generation so they can be productive members of society.

"You know that old adage, to whom much is given, much is expected," said Swinney. "So, we as beneficiaries of this trust, having this opportunity, we feel a great responsibility to give back."

More than 300 homes were recently completed about a month ago. The new addition will include much more than places to live.

"They include community centers, health centers, recreation centers, gymnasiums, social services," said Swinney.

Through homestead homes, these families hope to build communities that will last for many generations.

"Home ownership in itself presents so many opportunities for us," said Swinney. "If we can have a foundation from which to work from, potentially it's limitless what we can do."

Many credit Governor Linda Lingle (R-Hawaii) for her leadership in this project. She says this is a win-win, obviously for the new homeowners but also for the state, because of the number of new jobs that will be created by these construction projects.