Quality housing that is affordable in Hawaii; hard to believe it exists. But on Thursday, a blessing and dedication was held for Hale Makana 'O Nanakuli -- the affordable rentals on Hawaiian homestead land in Nanakuli.
Chanting filled the air as hundreds gathered to dedicate a 48-unit rental project designed to help Hawaiian families. The rentals include everything from studio apartments to three bedroom low-income apartments. Based on income, rent can be as low as $250 a month.
The Nanakuli Hawaiian Homestead Community Association partnered with the Hawaiian Community Development Board to build the development. The association used HUD funding, bonds and state and federal income tax credits.
"It's overwhelming because even our own community had no faith in it. Everybody thought it would fail. Everybody didn't trust it. Hawaiians had never done this before," said Kamaki Kanahele of the Native Hawaiian Homestead Association.
But it is done and full of families. Kanahele says some of those who opposed the project now live in it.
That's how Annie Au Hoon and her daughter, Anela, say their new two bedroom apartment has a brand new kitchen, granite countertops and walk-in closets. They used to live in town where their rent nearly cost them Au Hoon's entire paycheck.
"I'm in a much better place now being that housing is affordable for me. I can afford to pay a good rent that's not gobbling up my entire paycheck," said Au Hoon.
Au Hoon says it has given her hope that a college education for Anela will be a reality.
Kanahele says Hale Makana 'O Nanakuli gives hope to those who need it the most.
"It's taking on people who need it the most," said Kanahele. "Many of the people here have come right off the beaches. Many of the people here have been working with jobs, but still cannot afford a low-income rental."
Some of those who opposed the project feared that because of certain funding non-Hawaiians would be living on land belonging to the Department of Hawaiian Homelands. Project officials say 75 percent of the tenants are from the Nanakuli Homestead Community itself.
Half are on the Hawaiian homelands waiting list, and the rest are either native Hawaiian or married to native Hawaiians.