DHHL – Department of Hawaiian Home Lands

DHHL Organizational Chart

About the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is governed by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920, enacted by the U.S. Congress to protect and improve the lives of native Hawaiians. The act created a Hawaiian Homes Commission to administer certain public lands, called Hawaiian home lands, for homesteads.  Native Hawaiians are defined as individuals having at least 50 percent Hawaiian blood.

The Act was incorporated as a provision in the State Constitution in 1959 when Hawai‘i was granted statehood. Responsibility for the Commission and the Hawaiian home lands was transferred to the State at that time. Except for provisions that increase benefits to lessees or relate to administration of the Act, the law can be amended only with the consent of Congress.

The primary responsibilities of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands are to serve its beneficiaries and to manage its extensive land trust. The land trust consists of over 200,000 acres on the islands of Hawai‘i, Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, O‘ahu, and Kaua‘i.

DHHL provides direct benefits to native Hawaiians in many ways. Beneficiaries may receive 99-year homestead leases at $1 per year for residential, agricultural, or pastoral purposes. These leases may be extended for an aggregate term not to exceed 199 years. Beneficiaries may receive financial assistance through direct loans, insured loans, or loan guarantees for home purchase, construction, home replacement, or repair.

In addition to administering the homesteading program, DHHL leases trust lands not in homestead use at market value and issues revocable permits, licenses, and rights-of-entry. The income from these enterprises is used to supplement DHHL’s programs, including continued homestead development.

Value Statement

To ensure the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust is on a solid foundation with sound policies and procedures, a long-term sustainable financial plan, a commitment to serving beneficiaries, and an organizational culture that honors the spirit of its founder, Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana’ole. With the foundation firmly rooted, administrations going forward will be prepared to work side-by-side with beneficiaries and other partners to create and maintain vibrant homestead communities.


Reaffirm & Assert Trust Status

  • Objective 1: Determine & commit to meeting the Trust Kuleana
  • Objective 2: Protect the Trust
  • Objective 3: Advance the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act

The mission of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust is implemented by a state department, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. The Hawaiian Homes commission Act provides clear roles and responsibilities to implement the act, while our state administrative rules provides for implementation. The difference and the roles of each kuleana must be articulated.


Ensuring the Financial Well-Being of the Trust

  • Objective 1: Improve Efficiency And Effectiveness Of Internal Operations.
  • Objective 2: Create Synergistic Partnerships And Alliances
  • Objective 3: Diversify And Increase Revenue Streams

The trust has a finite amount of land and resources. Not only is the trust expected to provide “new” homesteads for 40,000 waitlist applications, it must continue to serve the existing 10,000 lessees by way of repair and maintenance of utilities, traffic, roads, water, wastewater, health and safety requirements. The trust must also use its lands to generate revenue to financially support the trust’s work of serving beneficiaries. Current economic times must be considered in the development of new strategies that produce optimal performance of the trust. Developing partnerships and alliances that provide mutual benefit will enhance the opportunities for success. The trust must also consider alternative revenue steams that will help to meet the ever growing waitlist.


Provide Excellent Customer Service

  • Objective 1: Increase Communication And Access To Information
  • Objective 2: Develop Transparent Policies, Procedures And Practice
  • Objective 3: Provide Professional Development Opportunities And Support For All Staff Members.

During both the beneficiary and staff retreats, opinions centered on the trust’s ability to provide for and support beneficiaries and employees. Once comment in particular came from the staff retreat: “Good customer service benefits both beneficiaries and employees/DHHL.” Both groups also expressed the desire for consistent and clear policies – procedures and practices that would withstand the changing of new administration over time. Through the objective above, the trust will focus on laying the foundation for consistency, providing communication and creating methods for beneficiaries, staff and the broader public to access information. Further, the goals will provide for staff professional development support which leads to strong customer service and high performance while incorporating our Hawaiian values and understandings.


Deliver Diverse Homesteading Opportunities

  • Objective 1: Expand The Variety Of Residential Homesteading Opportunities
  • Objective 2: Implement Agricultural Homesteading Opportunities
  • Objective 3: Implement Pastoral Homesteading Opportunities
  • Objective 4: Implement Aquaculture Homesteading Opportunities
  • Objective 5: Seek Alternative Financing For Homesteading Opportunities

The trust has mainly focused on single-family homes over its lifetime. Driven by the economic times and the needs of beneficiaries and applicants, the trust must seek to expand the breadth and depth of its homesteading opportunities overall. The trust has over 40,000 applications for families waiting to be returned to the ‘āina. Expanding residential homesteading opportunities into areas such as Kauhale, multi-family homes, rental and transitional units will provide relief to applicants who continue to wait for a home to meet their needs. The trust will strive to implement agricultural, pastoral, and aquacultural homesteading opportunities to fit today’s family. Considerations will be given to cluster-lots, community use lots and rural homesteading. To support these objectives, the department must step out of the box to create alternative financing models to service these beneficiaries.