Labor alliance helps to speed up move-in date for Maui family

Timothy and Michelle Kanehe and their children are hoping to move into their new Kula home – possibly nine months sooner than usual Habitat for Humanity construction projects – with the help of the Maui Island Labor Alliance.

“They are on the way accelerated timeline,” Richard Carr, deputy director of Habitat for Humanity Maui, said last week.

The labor alliance, which includes many union trades that build homes, could have the three-bedroom, two-bath home with 1,180 square feet completed in 90 days, said Carr. The typical Habitat home, with volunteers working Saturdays, takes a year to build.

In addition, Habitat likely would not have been able to move on the Kanehes’ home until the completion of the 16-unit Kahawai condominium project in Happy Valley, which volunteers are expected to be tied up on until December, said Carr.

The Kanehes, who are building in the Hawaiian Home Lands Waiohuli Homesteads, were chosen because they were next up for a home, said Carr. The family was selected for a home two years ago but had to complete the full application process.

Under the Habitat program, families provide the land and pay only for the materials for the home, Carr explained. Habitat provides a 30-year mortgage at 0 percent interest. Families are required to put in “sweat equity” in helping to build their homes.

Groundbreaking for the Kanehes’ home was held Feb. 19. The home has a market value of $201,000, but the Kanehes’ mortgage will be much less than that, said Carr.

Calling Habitat “a great nonprofit agency,” Lahela Aiwohi, Maui division director of the United Public Workers, AFSCME, Local 646, AFL-CIO, said that this is the first time the labor alliance has joined with Habitat on a home. And it may not be the last time, Aiwohi indicated.

The labor alliance does many projects to give back to the community. Recently, the alliance put up backpack hangers and restriped the parking lot at Waihee Elementary School, said Aiwohi. After completing the Kanehes’ home, the alliance will help rehabilitate the Women Helping Women safe home, she said.

With its members in various trades, the alliance “is able to use its strengths in the trades to do various community service projects,” a news release about the partnership said, adding that the alliance board members voted to take on the Habitat project.

“We are so excited to be partnering with the Maui Island Labor Alliance for this build,” said Sherri K. Dodson, executive director of Habitat on Maui. “This family has worked very hard to prepare for homeownership and is so excited to be getting a home for their family.

“Because the union trades are involved, the build should go much faster, meaning the family won’t have to wait much longer to realize the dream of owning their own home.”

For more information about Habitat, go to or call 242-1140.

* Lee Imada can be reached at