Maui FOC Reaches First Year Goal to Help 1,000 Families in Search of Affordable Housing
The Maui Financial Opportunity Center, launched as a public-private partnership between Maui County, Hawai‘i Community Foundation and Hawaiian Community Assets, has reached its first-year goal of working with over 1,000 local families to improve financial stability in order to qualify for affordable housing.
Established in December 2020, the FOC is well on its way to achieveits short-term goal of assisting 3,000 Maui County residents and families over the course of three years.
The percentage of cost-burdened households in Maui County (spending 30% or more on housing), is 50.8%, the highest of any County in the State of Hawaiʻi, according to a 2019 HUD report. Recognizing the vital need to provide more services to local families so they can continue to call Maui home, Maui County and HCF each provided matching funds of $250,000, for a total of $500,000, to launch and operate the Maui FOC.
“It takes a village to get Maui County’s working families into housing within their budget,” said Mayor Michael Victorino. “The Maui Financial Opportunity Center can help residents move into an affordable rental or buy an attainable home. To serve 1,000 families during its first year is an important achievement. I urge those seeking housing to contact the FOC to ask how their services can help. The County’s partnership with the Hawai‘i Community Foundation and Hawaiian Community Assets is just one of many ways we are trying to help our residents.”
The FOC is run by nonprofit HCA, Hawaiʻi’s largest HUD-certified housing counseling agency. HCA’s certified counselors provide free counseling that helps local residents increase income, build savings, pay down debt and improve credit to qualify for affordable rentals and purchase homes.
Services also include assistance with enrolling in grant or loan programs that can help with rental deposits, first month’s rent, down payments, or closing costs on a home. Once enrolled, clients receive two free credit reports per year, credit building products, and credit repair assistance – all at no charge to improve Maui County families’ financial stability and increase housing affordability.
As a one-stop program, HCA connects rental and purchase-ready individuals with its community development financial institution, Hawaiʻi Community Lending. HCL can offer consumer and affordable housing loans, mortgage packaging, and brokering services to help make housing and homeownership possible. Qualified residents are paired with the FOC’s builder partners offering affordable rental and for-sale homes that currently exist or are in the process of being built.
“We are honored to work alongside Maui County and Hawai‘i Community Foundation as well as our builder partners to bring opportunity to Maui County residents so our people can continue to stay here, raise their children here, and live in communities that are truly affordable,” said Jeff Gilbreath, HCA Interim Executive Director. “The progress of each and every one of our families who walk through our FOC doors is the real success today. They are navigating a complicated affordable housing system and have refused to give in to hopelessness so they can make the dream of homeownership a reality.”
According to Gilbreath, 67% of families who have completed financial counseling through the Maui FOC have successfully increased income, built savings, paid down debt, or improved credit scores to qualify for rental housing or a mortgage. This is significantly greater than the U.S. total, where 15% of families improved their financial capacity after completing HUD counseling services, according to the most recent national HUD reporting. Local families are doing their part to be prepared to rent or own a home of their own. See story at Maui Now.