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Buying Advice

Hawaii Homeownership Center – Helping to Make Dreams Come True

Executive Director Reina Miyamoto (far right) and staff of Hawaii Homeownership Center

The reality of living in Hawaii is there are many local residents who are renting and don’t believe they can afford to buy a home because of our high cost of living and their current financial situation. They see the news reports about our median single family home prices, and many feel it’s not possible. It’s true, our homes are on the higher side with a January 2019 median single family home price of $767,500 and condo median price at $399,000. However, signs are out there that the market is starting to balance out, and there are more opportunities for buyers to make homeownership a reality. The leadership in our community is also becoming more focused on finding ways to create more affordable housing, and at our legislature and within our government, housing is on everyone’s mind.

Though it may seem daunting and impossible to many, there are several non-profit housing organizations on Oahu making a difference in our community and one that we’d like to spotlight is Hawaii Homeownership Center.  If you fall into one of these categories, you need to reach out to them:

  • If you’re currently renting and you don’t know if homeownership is a possibility, but you’ve often thought about it as “a dream,” or
  • If you’ve already made a decision to buy and you are a first time home buyer

The Impact Hawaii Homeownership Center has made in the community since 2003

Educating People about Homeownership

First and foremost, Hawaii Homeownership Center has a mission of educating people on the home ownership process and all the various steps they need to take to start the process of buying home. Many people are not aware of what they need to do to qualify for financing to buy a home and all the other aspects involved.  Hawaii Homeownership Center holds buyer education classes to help people to learn about these steps and they also provide counselors or what I prefer to call “mentors” that will be with you through the whole journey. You can attend an orientation seminar to learn more about how the center works. There is just a nominal fee for a lifetime membership to attend the buyers classes, and you will also be assigned to a counselor (mentor). Once you graduate from the buyer education classes there are a number of different benefits you can look into. Many people have achieved great value just from the educational classes, and the greatest benefit they gain is a spirit of hope that this dream of homeownership can be a reality.

Rachel Willis, Executive Director, hard at work with HHOC Mortgage, a Hawaii Homeownership Center affiliate

HHOC Mortgage

HHOC Mortgage is an affiliate non-profit to the Hawaii Homeownership Center. There are several buyer programs that are available when you complete the education classes and obtain your certificate of completion:

DPAL – The Down Payment Loan Assistance Program. This is a low 5% Down Payment Assistance Loan Program for owner occupant first-time homebuyers.

DPACC – Down Payment and Closing Cost Deferred Loan. Designed for low to moderate income, first-time homebuyers. DPACC can be used for down payment assistance, closing costs (including rate buy down), or a mixture of both. The property must be used as your primary residence and an occupancy affidavit must be signed on a yearly basis. This program is for residents of Oahu only.

Other Cost-Saving Opportunities – Take advantage of other opportunities to save which will be presented to you as options such as Mortgage Credit Certificate, Lender Paid Mortgage Insurance, and Rebate pricing. In addition, other new programs will also be a possibility as time goes on.

Executive Director Reina Miyamoto Photo Credit: Daniella Maria

Introducing New Executive Director, Reina Miyamoto

On January 1, 2019 Hawaii Homeownership Center promoted Reina Miyamoto as their new Executive Director after the retirement of Dennis Oshiro. Reina has been with HHOC for 13 years as a Program Manager prior to becoming their new Executive Director. She has many years of non-profit management related experience and works tirelessly for the organization. Her greatest challenge is the allocation of her time because she really is an individual that gives a lot of heart to the supporters and the people who come to HHOC for help. Her 2019 focus is on building several initiatives that are already in the works:

  • The newest HHOC affiliate, the Housing and Land Trust by acquiring properties to resell to keep it as affordable homes for a long time.
  • Became an agency partner with Aloha United Way for the “Alice Project” which is a program to help provide aid to families that are having challenges financially. “ALICE” is an acronym that stands for “Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed.” HHOC is running a pilot program for financial literacy and already held their first class.
  • Increasing Hawaii Homeownership Center presence on the Big Island. A homeownership coach was recently hired who works from the Hawaii Community Federal Credit union and the HHOC is looking at ways to continue to grow there.

How You Can Help

If you would like to get involved to help Hawaii Homeownership Center through your dollars or time, there are several opportunities to help with Fundraising:

  • Corporate Donors or Individual Donations. Join the many wonderful companies, organizations, and individuals who donate to the center. If there are opportunities for grant awards, contact Reina and let her know and she will be happy to complete a grant application
  • The 12th Annual Hawaii Homeownership Golf Tournament will be held on August 22, 2019 at the Pearl Country Club. There will be teams of three and there are a variety of sponsorship levels for the tournament.
  • Welcome Home Fundraising Lunch on September 25, 2019 is a free lunch that is provided at the Japanese Cultural Center. Information will be shared about its mission. There is always a need for volunteer “Table Captains” at this event to help achieve attendance. At this lunch, there is an “ask for donations” after the presentation but it’s done in a very gracious way not to make anyone feel obligated.
  • Third Annual Flavors of Neighbors Annual Gala event on November 18, 2019 which is a food and wine tasting event held at a very elegant venue and includes a silent auction and wonderful local entertainment as well as participating restaurants and food and beverage companies.

Kapena performing at the 2nd Annual Flavors of Neighbors event at the Pacific Club

More Information

If you would like more information,  contact Hawaii Homeownership Center through their website at www.hihomeownership.org or call (808)523-8116.

If you are looking for a real estate agent who can help, contact Rose Medina Kemna, Realtor Broker at Hawaii Life at rosemkemna@hawaiilife.com. Rose is an active volunteer and supporter of Hawaii Homeownership Center and enjoys helping first time home buyers achieve their dream of homeownership.

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