Maui News

First HUD 184 Mortgage Loan Prequalification Issued to a Farmer on Hawaiian Home Lands

April 25, 2021, 7:14 AM HST
* Updated April 25, 7:15 AM
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The first loan prequalification has been issued to a native Hawaiian farm lessee under the HUD 184a mortgage program specifically enacted by Congress 20 years ago for Hawaiian Home Land properties, according to the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations.

“We are thrilled,” said Robin Puanani Danner, SCHHA chairwoman.  “It’s the first time ever, that a loan prequalification has been issued to a farmer, since the Congress created HUD184a, something that our farmers and ranchers have been denied to even apply for, for more than 20 years. Policy matters.”

Robin Puanani Danner.

In 2019, a native Hawaiian farm lessee contacted the SCHHA Ombudsman program seeking help to apply for the unique trust land mortgage product after being informed by local State government officials that farmers and ranchers were not eligible, that only residential homesteads were eligible to apply.

“We knew that wasn’t right, just based on a plain reading of the HUD184a Statute and related Federal Regulations,” Danner said.  “When we could make no headway at the local level, we sought the help of US Senator Brian Schatz, HUD and the Department of Interior, our primary federal trust agency for our trust lands.”

The SCHHA Ombudsman program pursued a policy review of the denial of homestead farmers and ranchers, and almost exactly a year later, on March 31, 2021, HUD issued a directive making clear that all trust lands, whether residential, farming or ranching, are eligible for the HUD184a mortgage  product.

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“In less than 25 days since that HUD ruling, correcting 20 years of misinformation, the first loan prequalification was issued to a native Hawaiian farmer,” said Kipukai Kualii, SCHHA Homestead Policy Committee Chair.  “That’s a very big deal, not just for the farmer, but for all of Hawaiʻi – there are more than 1,000 native Hawaiians with farm or ranch trust land leases in every county, the impact potential is huge, to agriculture, to banks, to our local building industry.  I congratulate this first farmer, to now be able to hire a builder and build his home.”

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SCHHA sponsored a nonprofit Native Community Development Financial Institution to assist native Hawaiians to access home capital, agricultural capital and consumer capital.  Hawaiian Lending & Investments has offices on Kauaʻi, Maui and Oʻahu, providing loans and grants, as well as technical assistance on mortgage loans.

“Our collective enrolled members of SCHHA with incredible expertise about our trust land law, connected to a Native CDFI, brings knowledge and know-how to increasing the flow of capital most citizens in our state and country take for granted,” Kualii continued.  “HLI helps our homestead and waitlist families navigate the unique requirements of Hawaiian Home Lands to access capital that is the very foundation of our economic freedom.”

SCHHA also connected one of the largest lenders of HUD184a in the country to HLI, First Tribal Lending, to bring additional lenders to Hawaiian Home Lands.  For more information about the HUD184a mortgage product, contact the nonprofit, Hawaiian Lending & Investments at [email protected]

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SCHHA, founded in 1987, is the oldest and largest homestead association unifying homestead associations statewide.  It is registered with the federal Department of Interior, exercising sovereignty to advance the tenets of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 and advance the interests of 10,000 land allottees and 28,000 native Hawaiians awaiting a homestead land award.

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