Habitat for Humanity as a Partner to Help Native Hawaiian Families Get Off the Homestead Waitlist

In Hawaii, there are 28,000 Native Hawaiians waiting for residentials, farming or ranching homesteads from the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL). If the state Legislature agrees to fund for development from 2020 through 2024, DHHL aims to develop 1,300 new lots during those years. However, this would take 110 years to serve everyone on the Home Lands waitlist, assuming that no one else applies.

Based on the “Housing Needs of Native Hawaiians” report, “DHHL’s shift to more expensive housing development may have exacerbated the problem of people staying on the waiting list for extended periods of time.” So, how quickly could homesteads open up compared to the rate of what the department is doing now? There is no single answer to this question, but a required partnership between the government and other housing organizations.  

Partnership with Habitat for Humanity

As the state continues to focus on single-family homes, the longer the wait will be for these families. Jean Lilley, executive director of Hawaii Habitat for Humanity Association, a State Support organization for the five Habitat affiliates in the islands, says that the demands are too high for the state to only focus on single-family homes.

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit housing organization offering homeownership opportunities to low-income families, including those on Hawaiian home lands. A partnership between DHHL and Habitat for Humanity would bring diversity and options for many Native Hawaiian families. Most Habitat homes are single-family, but in partnership with DHHL, together they would also develop multi family homes.

Multifamily houses are buildings that contain separate residences for two or more families. They include duplexes, triplexes and apartment building with a number of residential units. Developing multi family homes is one solution to get people off the long waitlist.

Daniel Sandomire, VP of Armstrong Development says that (DHHL) land is scarce so there should be more higher density development going on, and this is an opportunity that DHHL should pursue.  

How You Can Get Involved:

Volunteer and donate: Habitat for Humanity accepts donations through its State Support organization (Hawaii Habitat) and through each Habitat affiliates in Honolulu, Leeward Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Island. Volunteers who are interested in volunteering with a Habitat affiliate can contact their local Habitat affiliate for opportunities.

Speak to State Legislators: Encourage state legislators in continuing to support DHHL requests for capital funding. Read more about the Hawaiian homesteads backlog article.