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Hawaiian Home Lands survey shows half of respondents would trade their waitlist spot for $100K

DHHL Facebook page

About half the respondents to a survey sent by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands say they would trade their place on the homestead waitlist for $100,000.

This comes as Hawaiʻi lawmakers consider legislation that could provide DHHL with $600 million to address the more than 28,000 Native Hawaiian beneficiaries on the waitlist.

The online survey circulated last Tuesday posed the following question to Native Hawaiian beneficiaries:

"If DHHL provided you with $100,000 to purchase a new home, to pay your mortgage, or to pay your current rent, would you be willing to remove yourself from the DHHL waiting list?”

DHHL spokesman Cedric Duarte says the survey was distributed to about 12,000 beneficiaries on the department’s email list with the goal of gauging interest in down payment and mortgage assistance, in anticipation of a multi-million dollar infusion of funding from state lawmakers.

The idea of Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries being given money in exchange for relinquishing their right to a homestead is raising questions about the state’s fiduciary duty.

Duarte says it's department policy not to remove anyone from the waitlist until they become a lessee, or they pass away. But he says legislators could include language in the bill instructing DHHL on how to implement the measure once it becomes a law.

House Bill 2511 and its companion Senate Bill 3359 would provide DHHL with a one-time payment of $600 million to help move Native Hawaiians off the waitlist and onto Hawaiian Home Lands.

Both measures were approved by their respective chambers and are now awaiting committee hearings following crossover.

HB2511 is set for a hearing before the Senate Committee on Hawaiian Affairs Tuesday at 1 p.m.

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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