Building Houses, Building Hope

Habitat for Humanity - Generations Magazine - October - November 2011When Lehua Fuller first showed her Waimanalo home to Honolulu Habitat for Humanity staff, they were amazed. She had managed to raise 12 children in her four-bedroom plantation-style home, which was in grave disrepair. There were holes in the floor and roof, severe termite damage and problems with the electrical and plumbing. In Honolulu, Wallace Bailey, a disabled retired veteran, and his wife Frances, decided to contact Habitat for Humanity for help after living in their dilapidated home in Papakolea since 1962. And, JT and Thelma Vasconcellos, a retired couple living in their 60-year-old home in Waialua, knew that their home needed more work than they could afford. Thanks to their partnership with Honolulu Habitat for Humanity, construction started on the Fuller and Bailey homes in July, and JT and Thelma Vasconcellos moved into their new Habitat home in April 2011.

Since 1988, Honolulu Habitat has been partnering with low-income families to provide simple, decent homes in Hawai‘i. It has built 65 homes on O‘ahu. Habitat builds homes with hundreds of skilled and unskilled volunteers who provide the majority of the construction labor. This vibrant, volunteer focused organization serves the sector of the population that faces the greatest challenge achieving homeownership — families that earn between 30% and 60% of the area median income. For the City & County of Honolulu, the 60% of area median income for a family of four is $59,550.

Many partner families are employed, yet are unable to qualify for a traditional mortgage to build or buy a safe, decent home. Other partner families are retired and living on a fixed income. To further serve these families, Habitat also becomes the mortgage company for partner families, selling the homes to them at no-profit and 0% interest, making mortgage payments affordable.

Prior to partnering with Habitat, many residents live in substandard structures. These homes are unsafe, termite-eaten and damaged by water or wind. Honolulu Habitat enables partner families to provide a safe home to raise their children and care for their elders, breaking the cycle of poverty housing on O‘ahu. The community benefits by coming together to volunteer for a common cause — to partner with a low-income family to build a simple, decent home they can afford to buy.

To apply for a Habitat home, make a donation or volunteer for Honolulu Habitat for Humanity, visit or call 538-7070. Volunteers are welcome. Help is needed to build, provide lunches for volunteers and support the office.


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