It takes a Village to Build an Ohana

In 2016, Keonanaona Salis and his family received news from DHHL. Salis felt like he and his family just hit the lottery, or so he thought. After 60 years later, the Salis family was awarded land. However, they did not have the money to build a house or qualify for a loan of $300,000 to $500,000.

“Eventually, reality set in where we’re not financially ready,” said Salis. His father was on the waitlist since 1959. As a family who had been living in public housing and homeless once, they were losing hope.

Moments before the Salis family felt like giving up, local non-profit organizations partnered up to help the Salis family. Aloha United Way (AUW) provided connection to the family with a financial literacy program through Hawaiian Community Assets (HCA), workforce training from the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA), and affordable home construction through Honolulu Habitat for Humanity (Honolulu Habitat). Local non-profit partnership is living proof that it does take a village to build an ohana.  

“The reason everyone should get involved in local organizations like the Honolulu Habitat for Humanity and Aloha United Way is not only because they build homes,” Salis says. “They build ohana. They teach you how to not only be involved in the community, but prepare yourself to be back in the community.”

AUW’s program, ALICE, helps families like Salis’, who are living just above the federal poverty level but below financial stability. ALICE is short for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed and this program aims to get families like Salis’ get out of the danger zone.

HCA is a counselling agency and community lending institution that helps communities achieve and sustain economic self-sufficiency, with a focus on Native Hawaiians.

CNHA is a non-profit organization that enhances the cultural, economic, political, and community development of Native Hawaiians. Habitat for Humanity is part of a global, non-profit housing organization operated on Christian principles that seeks to put God’s love into action by building homes, communities and hope. Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally and worldwide through constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions.  Habitat for Humanity was founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a simple, durable place to live in dignity and safety, and that decent shelter in decent communities should be a matter of conscience and action for all.