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Keeping Hawaii families in Their Homes

Hawaii HomeOwnership Center (HHOC) is a nonprofit organization created to provide support to first-time homebuyers, who aspire to own a home. However, during the Great Recession, we found ourselves being called by homeowners asking for help to work with their lenders so they could keep their homes. We believe a safe and stable place to live is the foundation for success for individuals and families — including their children — so we felt compelled to provide support through a Foreclosure Prevention Counseling program until the community no longer needed it.

I’ll never forget the day after Thanksgiving 10 years ago. I answered the door for a man named Keoni, who dropped by on his day off. His work hours were reduced, so he met with one of our staff to review his options to save his home and submitted a request to his lender to modify the terms of his mortgage. Keoni arrived at our office that day hoping we could fax some forms to his lender related to his modification request. While I was preparing his fax, he said in his soft voice, “I would have mailed these documents, but I didn’t have the postage to send it.” I was heartbroken hearing that Keoni didn’t have enough for a postage stamp to submit these very important papers to his lender.

Thoughts of this encounter still brings tears to my eyes. However, he was committed and persevered through his hardship to do all he could to weather his circumstances. I’m happy to say he was able to obtain a loan modification, and visited us a few times afterward to review his budget and stewardship of his money.

Experiences with those like Keoni led HHOC to offer Foreclosure Prevention and Rental Counseling for distressed owners and renters in response to the pandemic. Our website provides access to selfhelp tools and offers scheduling of confidential appointments, which are focused on sustaining housing through the creation of a crisis budget and self-implemented action plan to access community resources. For those who choose to move out of their home, our staff can discuss their options, too. There is no charge for this program.

Do you know a homeowner or renter in need of a confidential housing discussion? Please let them know that Hawaii Homeownership Center is available to support them. The more friends and neighbors that we can keep in their home will positively impact our ability to recover from the pandemic as a community.

For more information, visit hihomeownership.org.

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