|By Brittany Hutson, NeighborWorks |
America Public Relations fellow
Hawaii is known for its tranquil waters and natural beauty, but the state is also one of the most expensive places to live and buy a home. For 10 years, Hawai‘i HomeOwnership Center (HHOC), based in Honolulu, has been a resource for providing education, information, and support for first-time homeowners. Since the average income does not mirror the high cost of living in the state, HHOC’s services are particularly helpful to low and moderate income households. The organization has assisted more than 930 families become first-time home buyers and this year, HHOC anticipates assisting their 1,000th homeowner.
Hawaii was not immune to the effects of the global economic crisis; HHOC had to develop new strategies to assist their clients. “We never thought that we’d see foreclosures on a high level since real estate has always been a finite commodity in our state,” says HHOC Executive Director Dennis Oshiro. “We have been compelled to deal with the rising number of families in danger of losing their homes dues to financial hardships, as well as educate the public about avoiding modification scams.”
|Maria Stewart and Matthew Kriegler attended a Hawaii HomeOwnwership |
Center orientation and thought, “homeownership is for other people.”
They signed up anyway and realized homeownership was
possible. Now they enjoy meals in their own backyard.
|For years, Mary Ellen Farias has kept her receipts in a zip lock bag as part of |
her system for tracking expenses. Now Farias is a homeowner.
She says, “I did it for my son.”
Oshiro recalls his staff commenting, “Keone was like a sponge soaking up every bit of information at his meetings. He is the only client we know of that read the entire 1-1/2 inch textbook from cover to cover!” Keone and his family now live in a home of their own. “Keone’s open attitude towards learning and his enthusiasm of working towards his dream of homeownership reflects what we have seen in many clients after they are equipped to make homeownership possible,” says Oshiro.
Oshiro says being a part of the NeighborWorks network has allowed HHOC to “operate at a high-level on behalf of our clients” because of the funding and technical assistance NeighborWorks provides.
Learn more about HHOC at http://www.hihomeownership.org.