DHHL grant will benefit Hilo housing project


Affordable housing projects in Kona and Hilo are getting a boost, thanks to a $9.7 million grant to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. The money from the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act will fund new construction, repair and reconstruction, and financial education for future lessees in Keaukaha in Hilo and at Villages of Lai Opua in Kailua-Kona, said Punialoha Chee, spokesman for the DHHL. The Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant will also be spent on other projects around the state.

The grant will fund financial literacy programs to prepare lessees for future home ownership, and a loss mitigation program aimed at helping lessees navigate financial challenges, Chee said.

The DHHL broke ground on Village 4 Akua and Isemoto Contracting Co. started $11 million in infrastructure work in February. The 117 residential homestead lots for Native Hawaiian families are located on 34 acres of Hawaiian Home Lands mauka and south of Kealakehe High School.

Sen. Brian Schatz said that federal funding has helped Native Hawaiians overcome barriers to adequate housing.

“In Hawaii, I have witnessed the success of the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant and loan guarantee programs first hand,” Schatz said in a press release. “They have increased home ownership, improved living conditions and changed lives.”

The new $5 million, 11,000-square-foot West Hawaii Community Health Center at Lai Opua is on course to open next April, said Lai Opua 2020 Executive Director Bo Kahui. Construction work on the vertical portion of the dental building has started, and the foundation work on the primary care building is concluding, with vertical work set to begin in a few weeks, Kahui said.

“Once the foundation work is done, you’ll see it progress rapidly,” he said.

The first phase of the center will have four exam rooms, a procedure room, dental operations rooms and patient service and equipment areas. A planned second phase would expand the center to 26,000 square feet and include space for administration, family practice, outreach and reception.

Email Bret Yager at byager@westhawaiitoday.com.

 

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