Kaua‘i Habitat celebrates 20th anniversary

HANAPEPE — In the 20 years since its inception, Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity has built 108 affordable homes, made critical repairs to 19 substandard homes and is on track to construct a total of 124 homes by 2021. It’s all made possible through volunteer labor and donations of money and materials from businesses and community members

To celebrate these achievements, the organization is celebrating with a sale at ReStore on Dec. 29. The sale takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with complimentary shave ice, Kaua‘i Coffee and entertainment by Lady Ipo and Na Hoaloha from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Lady Ipo is one of our 108 Habitat homeowners,” said Kaua‘i Habitat Director of Development Milani Pimental. “She is thrilled to be able to help celebrate with us in this way.”

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 — one house at a time — and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.

“We’re proud to be celebrating our 20th year here on Kaua‘i,” said Executive Director Stephen Spears, who said he thanks the community for its support from the dark days of post-‘Iniki, to the ambitious projects of the present.

“We’re raising additional capital funds for the ‘Ele‘ele ‘Iluna subdivision,” Spears added. “We couldn’t have come this far without the dedication of our donors, volunteers and friends.”

The beginning of Kaua‘i Habitat

The chapter started after Hurricane ‘Iniki destroyed more than 1,500 homes and damaged 5,000 more on Sept. 11, 1992. Kaua‘i Habitat incorporated on Dec. 21 of that year and built 15 homes alone in 1993, and 13 more in 1994.

“The community rallied together and in an effort to help people repair roofs and build homes, and provide food to workers,” Pimental said. “There were some great forward-thinking people that came together to start an affiliate chapter here on Kaua‘i.”

Founding director Rick Hathaway, a long-time employee of Habitat for Humanity International headquarters in Georgia, came to the island with around $500,000 in funds raised by the generosity of individuals across the country.

“They gave of their own accord to help the people of Kaua‘i rebuild their homes in the aftermath of Hurricane ‘Iniki,” Pimental said. “Hathaway and the late LaFrance Kapaka-Arboleda gathered together a group of compassionate and forward-thinking individuals who formed our first Board of Directors.”

That first board included David Akama, Annie Burkle, Larry Buzbee, Scott Davidson, La France Kapaka-Arboleda, Carl Stepath, Karen Hillstrom, Creighton Fujii, Rev. Vill Galiza, Elyne Koehler, June Stark, Thea Carlyle, Annette Cremer, Wilma Holi, Ben Nakaahiki and Gail Zorn.

Hawai‘i Gov. John Waihee was present for the dedication of the first home completed in December 1992 with private donor support and volunteer labor.

The Blitz Build event called “7 on the 11” was held on the one-year anniversary. It set the goal of building Habitat homes that today can be found in Anahola, ‘Ele‘ele, Hanapepe, Kekaha, Kapa‘a, Kalaheo, Hanalei and Kealia.

La France would later serve as director following Hathaway.

“She was a respected cultural resource and very active on Kaua‘i especially in the Hawaiian community,” she said. “We’re very thankful for LaFrance’s foresight in rallying the community to address not only our needs in the aftermath of ‘Iniki, but also the long-term needs of our community.”

Looking forward

Spears became director in 2007. Under his leadership, Kaua‘i Habitat increased capacity to become a medium-sized affiliate. This was in preparation to develop ‘Ele‘ele Iluna (which in Hawaiian means to rise up from the darkness).

The 100th Habitat home was completed in the ‘Ele‘ele Iluna subdivision in 2009. With 17 homes already built or under way, and construction on 12 homes slated to begin 2014, a total of 124 homes are expected to be built in phase two of the subdivision by 2021.

It will take approximately $2 million for home construction and another $1 million to fully complete land development for another 107 homes through 2021, Pimental said.

“We are at a critical point,” she added. “Besides the 17 homes already completed, we’ve put in a sewer line, highway improvements and a new water main.”

The modest homes are sold at no profit to qualified families that are 30 to 80 percent of Kaua‘i median income. A zero percent interest mortgage loan makes it possible, along with a 1 percent down payment and 700-hours of sweat equity alongside Habitat staff and volunteers.

The New Home Construction program offers options of purchasing a house and lot in ‘Ele‘ele Iluna, or building on a lot they already own.

The Repair and Renovation Program assists families in making critical repairs to their homes. This can include as roofing, electrical, plumbing, or other exterior and interior repairs.

The volunteers work with materials either donated or purchased from private contributions. Building costs are kept low for homeowners and Habitat reinvests any savings into the program.

“We thank everyone for all the support we’ve received since our founding in 1992, from volunteers to donors, homeowners and advocates for our work,” Pimental said.

Anniversary sale

ReStore sells new and used discounted building and construction materials, home improvement items plus gently used furniture, appliances and household goods to raise money for the affiliate. The proceeds support Habitat’s mission to build affordable housing.

Hourly special deals will start with children’s clothes and furniture at 9 a.m.; adult clothing at 10 a.m.; carpeting and vinyl flooring at 11 a.m.; doors and windows at noon; lighting at 1 p.m.; sinks, tubs, toilets and showers at 2 p.m.; and furniture at 3 p.m.

“This will be a great opportunity for the public to see ‘what’s in store’,” said ReStore Manager Cynthia Dazzi. “We’ll be offering a great shopping experience and great deals.”

ReStore is located in Hanapepe on Kaumuali‘i Highway, across from Salt Pond Country Store. The ReStore entrance is adjacent to Habitat’s main office.

For information, to donate or to volunteer, visit www.Kauaihabitat.org, facebook.com/Kauaihabitat or Twitter @Kauaihabitat.

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