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New program set to help residents get into housing

Goal is to assist with rentals and mortgage financing

The Maui News

Maui County and two local agencies are partnering up to launch a Financial Opportunity Center that will help thousands of residents into housing, Mayor Michael Victorino announced Monday.

“The Financial Opportunity Center’s goal is to help thousands of Maui residents qualify for affordable rentals and mortgage financing, giving them hope for a brighter future,” Victorino said in a news release. “Attainable housing needs to be part of the emerging ‘new normal.’ “

Maui County and the Hawai’i Community Foundation, a philanthropic institution, have each provided matching funds of $250,000, for a total of $500,000, to launch and operate the center, which will assist 3,000 Maui residents in qualifying for affordable rentals and mortgage financing over the course of three years. It will target families who live in poverty or are considered ALICE (asset limited, income constrained, employed) and who spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

The center will be established and run by Hawaiian Community Assets, the state’s largest U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-certified housing counseling agency. It was started 20 years ago on Maui by longtime housing advocates Blossom Feiteira and Kehaulani Filimoeatu.

“Housing affordability was an issue before COVID-19 and it is critical that we implement new programs such as this in order to jumpstart our recovery,” said Lahela Williams, executive director of Hawaiian Community Assets.

Residents will have access through the center to free financial coaching, grants and technical assistance to support employment and entrepreneurship. Hawaiian Community Assets and Hawai’i Community Lending will also offer consumer and affordable housing loans, as well as mortgage packaging and brokering services. Qualified residents will be paired with rent and for-sale units that currently exist or are built by nonprofit and for-profit home builders.

“High rents can make it hard to feed a family, build emergency savings or send children to college,” said Micah Kane, CEO and president of the Hawai’i Community Foundation. “With this partnership with Maui County and Hawaiian Community Assets, we can work together toward creating a more sustainable housing climate for Maui residents.”

Interested Maui residents are encouraged to complete a client intake application online at www.hawaiiancommunity.net.

For more information, contact Hawaiian Community Assets at info@hawaiiancommunity.net or at (808) 587-7886.

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