FOR MORE INFORMATION Contact: Sheila Sarhangi Hawai‘i Community Foundation (808) 772-0718 Mobile firstname.lastname@example.org
PRESS RELEASE For Immediate Release December 2, 2020
MAUI FINANCIAL OPPORTUNITY CENTER NOW OPEN IN WAILUKU In response to the pandemic, the center aims to help thousands of Maui residents qualify for rentals and mortgage financing WAILUKU, MAUI — Now open in Wailuku, a Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) has launched as a publicprivate partnership by Maui County, Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) and Hawaiian Community Assets (HCA) to help thousands of residents qualify for permanent affordable housing — an intervention for economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Maui County and the Hawai‘i Community Foundation each provided matching funds of $250,000, for a total of $500,000, to launch and operate the FOC. The FOC is established and run by nonprofit Hawaiian Community Assets, Hawai‘i’s largest HUD-certified housing counseling agency. (HUD refers to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.) The organization runs FOCs on Hawai‘i, O‘ahu, and Maui islands and plans to open a location on Kaua‘i in 2021. With its new location in Wailuku, the FOC aims to assist 3,000 Maui residents and families in qualifying for affordable rentals and mortgage financing over the course of three years. “In partnership with Hawai‘i Community Foundation and Hawaiian Community Assets, the County of Maui remains committed to collaborative solutions that relieve the pressure of our island’s high cost of living,” said Mayor Victorino. “The Financial Opportunity Center will work directly with our Maui County residents to ensure that they have the support they need to build the life they want here at home.” HCA’s certified counselors provide free individualized counseling to assist Maui residents in creating a financial action plan to build savings, pay down debt and improve credit with the goal of securing and sustaining permanent, affordable housing. Services also include assistance with enrollment in grants or loan programs that can help with rental deposits or payment for the first month, a down payment or closing costs on a house, and career coaching that can help individuals increase their income and ability to rent or own their own homes.
As a one-stop program, when individuals meet with a FOC counselor and are ready to purchase a home, HCA partners with its community development financial institution, Hawai‘i Community Lending (HCL), to offer consumer and affordable housing loans as well as mortgage packaging and brokering services to help make the dream of homeownership a reality. Qualified residents will be paired with rent and for-sale units that currently exist or are built by nonprofit and for-profit home builders. The percentage of cost burdened Households in Maui County (spending 30% or more on housing) is 50.8% which is the highest of any County in the State of Hawai‘i, according a 2019 HUD report. “When local families reduce the amount of income that is spent on housing, it has a positive impact on them individually and on the community. Stable housing provides the security that keiki need to be able to focus on school and allows adults to perform at their jobs and spend dollars in other critical areas, such as food,” said Michelle Kauhane, Senior Vice President of Community Grants & Initiatives at HCF. “In partnership with Maui County and Hawaiian Community Assets, Hawai‘i Community Foundation is focused on reducing the cost burden of housing, with the goal of creating a better life for Maui residents.” This year, HCA celebrates 20 years of operations and the FOC’s establishment on Maui marks the organization’s return to the island where the nonprofit started by long-time housing advocates and Maui residents, Blossom Feiteira and Kehaulani Filimoeatu. “It doesn’t matter what financial situation residents are in; we can help do a financial checkup in which individuals can better understand their earnings, budget, and path to becoming a renter or a home owner, especially since there are incredible opportunities right now with historic low interest rates and flexible federal mortgage loans program.,” said Jeff Gilbreath, interim executive director of Hawaiian Community Assets. “For those who may be struggling during this pandemic, or even before, we want you to come to a professional counselor to find the resources you need to make your financial situation better.” Since its founding in the Paukukalo homestead in 2000, HCA has provided free financial education to more than 20,000 Hawai‘i residents and helped 1,818 households secure or sustain affordable housing. Together, HCA and HCL have assisted Hawai‘i’s low- and moderate-income communities access over $160 million in capital for affordable housing through grants, loans, and mortgage financing. In 2017, the organizations’ service delivery approach was recognized in Brandeis University’s Foundations for the Future report as a national best practice in economic empowerment for native communities and communities of color. Maui residents interested in receiving no-cost FOC services and products can: Go online at www.HawaiianCommunity.net and click “client intake” Call 808-727-8870 to talk with a certified counselor Email email@example.com to learn more Office Address: Hawaiian Community Assets 24 N. Church Street, Suite 210, Wailuku, HI 96793 Note: In-person appointments with proper social distancing can also be accommodated. -MORE-
CLICK HERE FOR B-ROLL, SOUND BYTES, STILL SHOTS OF THE FOC LOCATION, STAFF, AND CLIENTELE About Hawaiian Community Assets Hawaiian Community Assets (HCA) is Hawaii’s largest HUD certified housing counseling agency. Since its founding on Maui in 2000, HCA has served more than 20,000 Hawaii residents with financial education and helped 6,181 low- and moderate-income individuals obtain rentals or purchase homes. HCA owns Hawaii Community Lending (HCL), a Department of Treasury certified community development financial institution. Together, HCA and HCL have assisted Hawaii communities access more than $160 million for affordable housing. About Hawai‘i Community Foundation With over 100 years of community service, the Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) is the leading philanthropic institution in the state. HCF is a steward of more than 950 funds, including more than 280 scholarship funds, created by donors who desire to transform lives and improve communities. In 2019, HCF distributed more than $63 million in grants and contracts statewide, including more than $7 million in scholarships. HCF also serves as a resource on community issues and trends in the nonprofit sector. To learn more about HCF’s response during coronavirus, please visit https://www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/coronavirus. ###