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Families purchase homes with help of new county grant program

By Staff | Feb 18, 2010

Mayor Charmaine Tavares and County Council Vice-Chair Michael Molina recently visited with several families who recently purchased their own home for the first time with the help of a new county grant program. Pictured (from left) are Manny Visitacion (white shirt) and daughters Tiffany, Ashley and Seryna; siblings Rudolfo Queja and Irene Queja Bala; Tavares; Molina; and Joy and Charles Au with son Makahinu. Photo by the County of Maui.

WAIHEE — Seven Maui families recently moved into their own homes, purchased with help from a new County of Maui grant program that assists first-time home buyers with their down-payment and/or

closing costs.

Mayor Charmaine Tavares and County Council Vice-Chair Michael Molina met recently with the families at the home of Joy and Charles Au of Waihee, who enjoyed their first Christmas in their newly purchased home.

The First-Time Home Buyer’s Grant (FTHBG) program, which began taking applications on Nov. 2, 2009 and provides maximum grant awards of

$15,000, was initiated by Molina in 2005 when housing prices were inflated.

The legislation passed with support of the full County Council and is being administered by Evergreen Home Loans through the county Department of Housing and Human Concerns’ (DHHC) Housing Division.

“I wanted to establish a program that would help middle-income families purchase their first home, said Molina. “I am excited for these hardworking families who can now experience the dream of home ownership in Maui County. It’s very gratifying to hear their stories and see their pride of being new homeowners.”

Charles Au and his wife, Joy, are teachers at Lokelani Intermediate School in Kihei. Their son, Makahinu, is 15 months old.

The Au ‘ohana and the other families gathered at their home thanked Tavares, Molina, DHHC Deputy Director Jo-Ann Ridao and Housing Administrator Wayde Oshiro.

“I grew up in a family of 11 children in rural Oahu, and we always rented,” Charles shared with the group. “My whole life, I thought I would never have the opportunity to own a home because of the cost. Thank you so much for taking away that obstacle.”

Manny Visitacion, who is raising three young daughters, said the program was a dream come true. 

“For the longest time, I was trying to get a house for my kids, and I never dreamed I could do it,” he said. “But a couple friends encouraged me to try for the (FTHB) program, and with the help of the mayor and the council, I was able to achieve this dream!”

Tavares said, “What a great day for these new homeowners and our county. For these families, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I’m glad was available to them.”

No repayment of the grant will be required unless a grantee refinances the first mortgage loan and receives cash; the grantee no longer uses the property as the borrower’s principle residence; or the borrower sells the property within 15 years. If the grantee sells, moves or refinances to receive cash within 15 years, the amount of

$15,000 will be paid back to the county.

For more information on the grant program, contact the Housing Division at 270-7351.