Five houses for low-income families are scheduled to be constructed in 10 days by hundreds of volunteers next month .
But before Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii’s dream can become reality, plenty of preparation work must be done at the Villages at Lai Opua, a Department of Hawaiian Home Lands subdivision near Kealakehe High School.
Thanks to four local construction companies and numerous subcontractors, it almost is. Since July, home builders, electricians, plumbers, suppliers and others have been lending time, materials, equipment and skills preparing the site for Habitat for Humanity of West Hawaii’s much-anticipated Lai Opua Blitz Build.
Between Sept. 12 and 22, five prepackaged, but modified, homes will be built in an effort to increase affordable housing in Kona. This build is also in celebration of the organization’s 10th anniversary in West Hawaii. The homes are being constructed on parcels available to five approved Native Hawaiian beneficiaries on a 99-year, $1 annual site lease.
The estimated value of work being donated by construction companies and subcontractors is approximately $156,250 per home, said Steve Machesky of Kokua Contracting and Project Management, who is serving as the project manager.
“There’s been a giant outpouring from more than 50 local businesses,” he said. “It’s been incredible coordinating the work and being a part of the whole thing.”
These partnerships with local builders, subcontractors and suppliers are helping keep the construction cost as low as possible to Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii, a locally run affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization. Such generosity can only be described as awesome, said Patrick Hurney, Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii executive director.
The first of two foundations were poured Friday and the remaining three are scheduled to be poured this week, Machesky said.
Clearing, grading, utility, forming and other site work was done. The five partner families, who will live in the homes and must complete “sweat-equity” hours before moving in, have also helped with the removal of litter and weeds during the weekends, Hurney said.
Machesky said his company was introduced to this project through Laiopua 2020 Executive Director Bo Kahui and really appreciates “the good habitat is doing for the Hawaiian community and the under-served folks of West Hawaii.” Kokua Contracting and Project Management got involved because “we want to do real and permanent good.”
Over the past four years, Lahela Kulana Corp. owner Kaleo Perreira and his 18 employees have participated in Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii projects, helping speed the construction process and move partner families into their homes sooner than anticipated. The organization has built homes in Ocean View, Waimea, Captain Cook and Kawaihae.
For Perreira, the assistant project manager, helping construct five homes in 10 days will again be a labor of love, a testament of hope, a moving display of community power, as well as an exercise in perseverance, hard work and family values. He also hopes the blitz build serves as an inspiration to others that they do not have to accept the status quo: Things can change for the better and there’s different ways to affect positively other people’s lives and make a real difference.
Help is still needed, Hurney said. Tents, tools and other supplies need to be gathered for the build. Donations of food and beverages are needed to keep approximately 300 volunteers going daily. Volunteers are also needed, especially during the weekdays, to perform a variety of tasks, including cleaning, construction, safety, medical aid, registration, parking, securing and hospitality.
For more information or to get involved, call 331-8010 or visit habitatwesthawaii.org.