La‘i ‘Ōpua Welcomes Blitz Build Homesteaders

Posted on Sep 22, 2012 in Community News
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Aloha Kekauoha receives a lei at todayʻs Blitz Build self-help home blessing in Laʻi ʻŌpua Hawaiian homestead, Kona.

LA’I ‘ŌPUA, HAWAI’I — Today five native Hawaiian ‘ohana received the keys to their new homes in the Hawaiian homestead community of La’i ‘Ōpua, Kona, Hawai’i.

“This isn’t just a home for me, but for my children and grandchildren,” said Edwina Fujimoto, whose mother Marjorie V. K. Fujimoto has been on the Hawaiian Homes wait list for decades.

The home blessing ceremony is the culmination of a ten-day Blitz Build, a self-help housing program offered by West Hawai’i’s Habitat for Humanity, where homeowners build five homes in 10 days. Homeowners participate in the construction of their own homes, as well as the homes of their neighbors.

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Habitat for Humanity West Hawai’i’s Blitz Build Program offered homeowners the opportunity to build five homes in 10 days.

“It brings more pride too to the Hawaiians because they built a house. We built a house!” added an enthusiastic Fujimoto.

One of the greatest advantages of this particular program is the 70+ Blitz Home Builder volunteers who flew here from as far away as Canada to lend their time and home construction expertise.

“I think one of the big reasons we do what we do is the real need for simple, decent, affordable housing,” said Blitz Home Builder Roy Zaborowski.

Since its inception 15 years ago, the Blitz Home Builders have completed 48 homes.

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Hawaiian homesteader Aloha Kekauoha (second from right) celebrates her new home with her keiki and mo’opuna.

“If it wasn’t for the Blitz Builders, family and friends, we wouldn’t be here,” said Aloha Kekauoha, who, after leaving Hawai’i to seek affordable housing opportunities in Las Vegas, Nevada, was able to return home and take this opportunity to provide future generations of the Kekauoha ‘ohana a home.

“We celebrate with these ‘ohana as they move from being a Hawaiian homes applicant to a Hawaiian homeowner,” said Jobie Masagatani, Chair-Designate of the Hawaiian Homes Commission and Director of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL), “It is moments like these that make all our work at the Department really worth it.”

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New La’i ‘Ōpua homesteader Melanie Lucas shares her new home with Chair-Designate Jobie Masagatani.

“If we can provide several generations with this opportunity to have a home and save money and send their kids to college, it opens up their lives to all kinds of wonderful opportunities,” said Gail Machado, Housing Specialist for the DHHL who has worked diligently with these ‘ohana to make sure they take full advantage of this opportunity to participate in the Blitz Build.

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Aloha Kekauoha and DHHL Housing Specialist Gail Machado take a moment to celebrate this milestone.

“It was such a long and difficult process for a lot of these families, for them to actually make it and qualify for this program. This home blessing is just icing on the cake,” added Machado.

Habitat for Humanity works to deliver simple, decent affordable homes for families with limited income, and provide homeownership opportunities with no-interest mortgages.

“The average rent here in Kona for a three-bedroom house is $1,500 a month,” said Patrick Hurney, Executive Director of West Hawai’i Habitat for Humanity, “The monthly mortgage rates for these families will be about $350 a month. So we can pretty much take a family and lift them out of poverty by providing them with affordable housing.”

“We couldn’t have asked for a better partner than West Hawai’i’s Habitat for Humanity to help us deliver affordable homes to our beneficiaries here in Kona,” added Masagatani, “We look forward to working with Pat, Margo, and the entire West Hawai’i crew to continue to deliver similar homeownership opportunities to more native Hawaiians.”