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Homeowners build from ground up

PUHI — Amy Perdue, a single parent of two, couldn’t hide the spark in her eye while talking about her new home in Puhi, Thursday.

From having her children attend school within walking distance to shopping at nearby Kukui Grove Shopping Center, the location couldn’t be better for her.

But before Perdue can move her family into their new residence, they have to build it.

Perdue and others are participants in Self-Help Housing Corp. of Hawai‘i’s Puhi project, which asks prospective homeowners to form teams, work together and build their homes from the ground up.

A blessing was held Thursday to mark the start of Phase 2 of the project, which will include 14 self-help homes. The third and final phase is scheduled to start later this year, and will bring the total number of these Puhi units to 41.

“We’re very happy that the dream of home ownership is coming true for more of our residents,” Mayor Bryan Baptiste said. “There is a tremendous need for affordable housing on Kaua‘i ,and the county is pleased to partner with organizations like the Self-Help Corp. and assist them with moving their projects forward.”

The county states that about 500 Kaua‘i residents applied for the 41 lots in Puhi.

Members of Phase 2 of the Puhi self-help project received financial counseling, took homeownership education classes and are required to put in about 32 hours a week of sweat equity for a year, building not only their homes, but helping others in the project.

“We’re known as ‘Da Puhi Hui,’” members of Phase I said while listening to the words of the speakers. “We might be a little off schedule, but we’re looking at trying to get people in homes by the end of the year. It’s a nice way to start the new year.”

Claudia Shay, executive director of Self-Help Housing Corp. of Hawai‘i, said June is National Home Ownership month.

Philip Stetson, acting deputy administrator of Rural Development in Washington, D.C., said the theme of the National Home Ownership month is owning your future.

“Housing is the largest single purchase in a person’s life,” Stetson said. “Beyond the pride of owning a home, it also builds wealth and the beauty of self-help is building your own home with far-reaching benefits.”

Since its establishment in 1984, the Self-Help Corp. has developed more than 100 homes in five other affordable housing projects on Kaua‘i, including Hanapepe, Hanapepe Cliffside, Kalaheo, Kapa‘a and Kilauea self-help housing.

“Through partnerships with the county of Kaua‘i, USDA Rural Development, Rural Community Assistance Corp., and the Housing Assistance Council, the Self-Help Corp. of Hawai‘i has been able to develop quality and affordable housing projects,” Shay said.

Shay said the self-help approach not only provides benefits to the low and very low income homeowner, but also to the community with the establishment of well-maintained homes and a broadening tax base.

The Thursday festivities not only marked the beginning of Phase 2, but also celebrated the accomplishments of Phase 1 and other projects on the island.

Other affordable housing projects on Kaua‘i are at various stages of development, according to the county. These include the 82 Kaua‘i Lagoons affordable rentals in Waipouli with a completion date of February 2009.

Kalepa Village Phase 4 will add 40 affordable rental units with construction scheduled to start this month.

‘Ele‘ele I Luna by Habitat for Humanity has 125 planned homes with 11 self-help homes completed and five more underway.

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is currently under construction for 29 contractor-built and 20 self-help homes in Kekaha, planned for completion in September. Additionally, DHHL has started site work in Anahola for 181 homes.

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