DHHL to aid in down payments for Native Hawaiians

HONOLULU — The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands approved a new program that will provide a small number of Native Hawaiian residents with down-payment assistance.

The new program approved Monday by the agency would provide funds for some on a waitlist who are looking to buy homes that are not within established homesteading communities on Oahu.

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DHHL will provide up to $1.5 million for the down payment program.

The approval is the first time the agency invested in housing outside a 317-square-mile area Congress authorized for Native Hawaiians in 1921. DHHL has been tasked with managing the land trust since.

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The waitlist for houses under the trust on Oahu is as high as 11,000 people. The program is intended to address the growing waitlist on an island with a great demand for housing but where the agency has the least amount of land.

DHHL has faced issues keeping up with demand in past years. The agency’s focus on developing expensive homes in large subdivisions has priced out many low-income Native Hawaiians and used much of the remaining land the trust owns on Oahu.

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