It was a joyous occasion as Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the first group of 12 homes in Phase II of the ‘Ele‘ele Iluna neighborhood project. Director of Development, Milani Pimental welcomed the crowd that consisted of the twelve deserving homeowner builders, Kaua‘i Habitat Board Members and staff, AmeriCorps service members, Kaua‘i political leaders, volunteers, donors, and numerous Habitat supporters. The first group of homeowners consist of, Preston Navarro, Tresame Lagazo, Daryl Martin, Ohia Tangalin, Nicholas Wehrly, Frank and Shana Cruz, Marti Smith, Cory Carveiro, Jeremy and Rebekah Albano, Lefty Kanahele, David and Nicole Pacanas, Joseph and Sharolyn Moises, and Thomas Hall.

Speakers at the event were met with applause and laughter as everyone was in a celebratory mood of this long awaited mile stone that will provide a total of 107 affordable homes to the hard working families of Kaua‘i. Speakers included Stephen Spears, Executive Director of Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity; Thad Bond, Board President; Kaulana Finn, Outreach Liaison for U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard; JoAnn Yukimura, Council Member; and Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr.
In his address, Kaua‘i Habitat President Thad Bond stated that he is “Proud to be part of the effort to provide more affordable housing for residents so that they can build a future right here on Kaua‘i rather than moving away because of limited housing options.”
Mayor Carvalho honored the efforts of Kaua‘i Habitat founder, the late LaFrance Kapaka-Arboleda, who named the subdivision “‘Ele‘ele Iluna” which translates to “rise up from the darkness.” He further stated, “We have come full circle, this is a win-win for everyone that was built on faith, hope, and love.”
Councilmember Joann Yukimura spoke of her experience when the affiliate was first founded in the weeks after Hurricane Iniki in 1992. “Habitat said ‘You need us’,” Yukimura recalled, “and they were right.”
Kaulana Finn summed up the event as she read congratulatory remarks from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard – “Home is where your story begins.”
Executive Director Stephen Spears stated, “I’ve had the great pleasure of seeing these twelve families sign their paperwork for their future homes. Our Habitat homeowners from our affiliate have never sold their homes on the open market. They stay and build the community. This is a legacy for them and their children, an opportunity for their families to grow and thrive.”
A group blessing was given by Rev. Keith McCollim and Rev. Ann Dittmar-McCollim who then met with each family and personally blessed each home site as the family members turned the soil on their respective lots.
Subdivision approval was granted by the County in late September. Building permits for the first group of 12 lots are currently being processed. Foundation work will begin as soon as permits are issued. Construction will continue in groups of 12 houses at a time, with a building timeline of 6-9 months per group. House Sponsorships are needed in addition to other financing and grants in place to fund the initial work on the homes. Interested individuals or businesses can contact Milani Pimental at (808) 335-0296 ext 113or Milani@kauaihabitat.org.
All homeowner candidates acquired financing through USDA. USDA’s partnership with Kaua‘i habitat was essential in providing affordable mortgages to the recipient families.
About Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity
Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity is a local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, an ecumenical, nonprofit, Christian housing ministry. Its mission is to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world – one house at a time on Kaua‘i – and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. Through volunteer and homeowner labor, and donations of money and materials, Habitat builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses. The affiliate is also a proud partner agency of Kauai United Way.Kaua‘i Habitat features two main home building programs: New Home Construction Program and Repair and Renovation Program. Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity also operates ReStore®, which sells new and used discounted building and construction materials and household items. Proceeds from ReStore® support Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity’s mission to build decent, affordable housing.Since 1992, Kaua‘i Habitat has built 117 affordable homes and made critical repairs to 28 existing homes for Kaua‘i families whose household income is between 30-80% of the median Kaua`i income. Because the critical need for affordable housing continues to persist on our island, Kaua`i Habitat has pledged to scale up our capacity and build our next 100 homes before the next decade.

Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity is pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. We encourage and support an affirmative advertising and marketing program in which there are no barriers to obtaining housing because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.

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