ANAHOLA — “A long process” bore fruit Friday afternoon, said Thomasyna Bungula, as a breeze cooled a small group of Kauai Habitat for Humanity staff, board members, dignitaries and family on Malua Street — in a state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands development in Anahola.
The Bungala ohana and the Kaleo and Jackie Lopez ohana received keys to their new homes from Kauai Habitat for Humanity board members following a dedication and blessing officiated by Kahu Wayne Vidinha of Ke Akua Mana Church and attended by Kaulana Finn, Kauai representative for U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who presented each homeowner with a special congratulatory certificate.
“I applied for Hawaiian Homes land when I was 18 years old,” Bungula said. “Twenty years later, after recovering from financial mistakes made along the way, we have our home. There were a lot of setbacks, but Kauai Habitat for Humanity was with us all the way. They communicated with us and were next to us every step of the way. Everyone has to be on the same page, and the kids had to buy in on this, too. They all had to help. This was a lot of work — hard work.”
Both families dedicated more than 500 volunteer hours to the building of their homes in order to keep costs of the homes down. They got help from neighbor Kamaka Fernandez, a Kauai Habitat for Humanity homeowner who went through the same process in 2013. He quietly smiled while recalling his own toils toward home ownership on DHHL property.
“We get to stay home on Kauai,” Bungula said. “We are blessed to have a Hawaiian Homes — forever.”
Kaleo Lopez nodded his head in agreement.
“This was a lot of work — hard work, with lots of hours,” Lopez said. “This was a journey, but we are here now!”
Peter Wiederoder, president of the Kauai Habitat board, said these projects get family, friends and neighbors involved, because of the volunteer hours involved.
“We don’t just put a house in place,” Wiederoder said. “Because of all the people involved in getting the home built, we build communities. The plans for the more than 30 homes makes Kauai Habitat the biggest in the state, and one of the bigger units in the country.”
“The Kauai Habitat for Humanity staff is doing wonderful work,” agreed Stephen Spears, Kauai Habitat executive director. “We will be starting work on another three homes in this same neighborhood very soon, clustered around these two homes. One of the biggest help is the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) 502 grant funding, which has provided more than $6 million direct to the homeowners. Kauai Habitat for Humanity plans to start as much as 30 new homes in the next few months in cooperation with the Department of Hawaiian Homes.”
Chris Young, a Kauai Habitat board member, said they are planning a unique Octoberfest event in Poipu. The format will be similar to the Dog House event hosted earlier in the summer.
Since 1992, Kauai Habitat has built 132 affordable homes and made critical repairs to 29 existing homes for families whose household income is between 30 to 80 percent of the median Kauai income.
“And, starting from the first homes since Hurricane Iniki, not a single Kauai Habitat home has gone on the market,” Young said.
Kauai Habitat for Humanity is a local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International and a partner agency of the Kauai United Way.