United States Featured Location: Hawaii
There are two locations in Hawaii that currently host volunteer teams.
Kaua’i is a rural tropical island and the northernmost of the Hawaiian Island chain. Its population is approximately 56,000. The island is only 25 miles wide and 33 miles long. Kaua’i’s main economic industries are agriculture and tourism. Kaua’i is an ethnically diverse community with Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, Black, Caucasian, Samoan and Tahitian residents.
Kailua-Kona is located on the Big Island of Hawaii. The northern and southernmost districts are primarily agricultural, while the Kona district is urban and includes the major tourist areas. The population of West Hawaii is approximately 95,000 and is ethnically diverse. Cultural and spiritual practices are strictly observed among the Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders; particularly those living in isolated communities outside of the major tourist areas.
With the influx of affluent tourist and vacation homes and rentals, the cost of living and housing in Kaua’i has increased dramatically. There is a consistent shortage of housing for local residents and an even more dramatic shortage of affordable housing for low-income families. The average single-family home price is US$477,500, and the median income for a family of four is US$56,100. Most working-class families cannot afford to own their own homes.
The island also suffers a large homeless problem, with many families living on the beach, in their cars, in carports or with relatives. Working-class families also cannot find homes to rent, and purchasing a home is not possible.
Homelessness is a reality for a considerable number of families in West Hawaii. In some areas, financial hardship is compounded by the need to commute long distances from home to available jobs. The median house price in West Hawaii is US$275,000, which is not affordable to most of the local workforce. Moreover, even if a family could afford a market-priced home, escalating energy costs make it financially unsustainable in the longer term. In the rural areas, almost 20 percent of the dwellings consist of tents, yurts, lava tubes and cargo containers.
Kaua’i Habitat for Humanity’s mission is to eliminate substandard housing, and in the process, improve communities. Kaua’i Habitat was formed in 1993 and has built more than 112 homes to date. More than 50 percent of our builds have been for Native Hawaiian families (2013). Kaua’i Habitat also has helped more than 25 local families with low cost repairs and renovations to their existing homes through their Repair and Renovation program. Kaua’i Habitat works with many families who earn between 30 and 80 percent of the median income. It most recently launched the Ele’ele Iluna Home Development Project, which will include an additional 100 new construction homes.
Habitat for Humanity of West Hawaii was formed in 2002. To date, 10 homes have been completed, along with several renovations and repairs as a result of earthquake and tsunami damage. Habitat for Humanity of West Hawaii has a partnership with the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL), through which they receive property, grants and construction loans for low-income families of native Hawaiian heritage. Because of the availability of this funding, the majority of Habitat for Humanity of West Hawaii’s builds have been on DHHL land; however, they plan to purchase affordable lots in the southern end of the island, where the need is greatest.
Types of construction for volunteers
A variety of new construction tasks await volunteers at these locations in Hawaii. Team leaders will receive details from the affiliate.
Kaua’i Habitat for Humanity owns a 5-bedroom, 3-bath home that is used to host volunteer crews. The volunteer house has a full kitchen, with laundry facilities, Internet (and WiFi) and a distant view of the ocean. Best of all, our neighbors are Habitat homeowners.
There are two hostels on the Big Island. The recommended one is in Kailua-Kona, central to shopping and dining and not far from the build sites. There is a large community kitchen and living room area adjacent to the dorms, and each suite has a kitchen and living room. There are also large decks ideal for dining and meeting. Teams can also stay at a heritage hotel, which has triple rooms available and an on-site meeting/recreation room.
Food and water
Fresh water, cold drinks and work site lunches are provided.
Teams will either cook group meals or coordinator meals at local restaurants. Breakfast is purchased in bulk and stored at the volunteer house. Lunches are often donated by local churches and service organizations, but teams may also need to make their own.
Habitat for Humanity of West Hawaii will host a “paina” at the end of the week. Arrangements can also be made for discount tickets to events like the Paniolo Barbeque, luau, etc. Both hostels have kitchens where meals can be prepared.
The affiliate provides a 15-person passenger vehicle for team use.
Teams must rent a van. The staff and volunteers of Habitat for Humanity of West Hawaii will help with additional transportation as required.
Standard itinerary (10 days)
Day 1 (Arrival day, typically Saturday): Greeted by team leader at the airport, depending on affiliate location; dinner and team meeting.
Day 2 (Sunday): Orientation; team activities/cultural outing; dinner.
Day 3-8 (Work days, Monday–Saturday): Breakfast before traveling to work site; work from 8a.m.-5p.m., with lunch on-site; free time after work to clean up; time for team activities. Special events throughout the week include local activities; community dinner.
Day 9 (Sunday): Team Activities/cultural experiences; farewell dinner.
Day 10 (Monday, Final Day): Departure day.
View the standard budget.
Kaua’i: 10-15 members
Kailua-Kona: 10-20 members
January-December (year-round) for all three locations.
Volunteer Engagement specialist
If you have read the FAQs and have further questions before you submit a Global Village trip proposal, please contact U.S. volunteer programs manager Natalie Nuce at NNuce@habitat.org.