Celebrating new homes

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    David Bieker of Kaua‘i Habitat gets a photo of Chad Chikahiro’s ‘ohana celebrating the keys to their new home Friday in the Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity ‘Ele‘ele Iluna neighborhood.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Donna Medeiros shows off her house keys Friday after receiving them from Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity board member Ashley Conner, left, who also lives in the ‘Ele‘ele Iluna neighborhood.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity homeowner Kerri Evans and her sons Brendan and Micah are ready to accept keys to their home from Kaua‘i Habitat board member Ashley Conner and Kaua‘i Habitat Executive Director Milani Pimental Friday as David Biekler sets up the socially-distanced photo at the ‘Ele‘ele Iluna neighborhood.

‘ELE‘ELE — Donna Medeiros and her family found a use for their new home Friday at the Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity ‘Ele‘ele Iluna neighborhood — the patio was a perfect vantage point to watch fellow habitat homeowner Kayla Armstrong receive her keys to her new home and other celebratory gifts.

Medeiros and Armstrong were among the six habitat homeowners who received the keys, certificates of occupancy and other gifts during the key-passing celebrated to enable the newest homeowners to get into their new homes by month’s end to avoid paying for housing in two locations.

The six homes completed brings the total number of homes constructed by Kaua‘i Habitat to 208. In addition to the six homes dedicated Friday, the Kaua‘i Habitat dedicated three homes on March 4, and five other homebuyer families received their keys on March 26, all in the isolation of COVID-19 rules and guidelines for health and safety.

“Today’s gathering is a move toward getting back to normal,” said David Bieker of the Kaua‘i Habitat. “Just small steps, but we’re getting back to normal.”

The scaled-down dedication moved through the neighborhood, where frames of new homes being built stood beside homes that already have families settling in to make the houses home.

“As we reach this exciting milestone of surpassing our 200th home on Kaua‘i, let it be known that we are not just building homes, we are strengthening our families to become future leaders in our community,” said Kaua‘i Habitat board president Leona Sa McDermott.

“When you help a family grow into their full potential, the impact of our support can bear fruit for generations to come.”

Support for the recently-completed homes was provided by affordable mortgage loans from U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Section 502 Guaranteed Loan Program, 502 Direct Loans to Homebuyers, and the County Housing Agency through the Home Investment Partnership Program.

The new homeowners received house keys, certificates of occupancy, and house-warming gifts of gift cards, welcome baskets, hats and T-shirts, plants, artwork from local artist Sandra Ambrose, and gifts from community members including Grove Farm Company, Koloa Surf Co. and the Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Chelsea Crapster manages the volunteer program at Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity. She said these homebuyers made great achievements during the global pandemic.

“It hasn’t been an easy feat,” Crapster said. “These homebuyers were not able to utilize traveling volunteer groups, and had to rely on themselves and their ‘ohana to get the work done. We are truly proud of all they have accomplished.”

Milani Pimental, Kaua‘i Habitat executive director, said she was glad that homebuilding was considered “essential” during the pandemic.

“We were able to get our three Americorps service volunteers who arrived here in September,” Pimental said. “They worked alongside our homebuyers to get to the exciting, end-of-the-build journey. The trip took longer because of the pandemic, and it was special beause of it. As you can see, there are 23 remaining homes to be built in ‘Ele‘ele.”

In addition to preparing for the final 23 homes in ‘Ele‘ele, Kaua‘i Habitat will soon start construction of the first group of homes in the Waimea Huakai project that will consist of 32 affordable single-family homes to be built adjacent to the 35-unit affordable-rental property that is currently fully occupied.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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