OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

The Pūnāwai Program assists Native Hawaiian beneficiaries with services designed to help individuals and families stabilize their living situations/lives and work towards self-sufficiency in the future. The OHA-funded program is a collaboration by Helping Hands Hawai'i, Hawaiian Community Assets and Catholic Charities Hawai'i. "We think success is getting individuals and the families we help through this program to the point where they don't need us anymore," said Jan Harada, president and CEO of Helping Hands Hawaii. "We want people to be self sufficient. We don't want to help you, then two months later, you're back needing more help. That means that we didn't do the job that we're supposed to do. Our job is to help you get to the point where you don't need us; you're on your own; you're self-sufficient and your stable. You're not doing drugs; you're not homeless; and you're not struggling to make ends meet. You are basically living a good life."

Pūnāwai Program

The Pūnāwai Program assists Native Hawaiian beneficiaries with services designed to help individuals and families stabilize their living situations/lives and work towards self-sufficiency in the future. The OHA-funded program is a collaboration by Helping Hands Hawai‘i, Hawaiian Community Assets and Catholic Charities Hawai‘i.

The program assists Native Hawaiians in understanding their financial situation by providing services including Individual Development Accounts, financial literacy/education, emergency financial assistance, and information and referral to other needed community resources.

Individual Development Account (IDA)

The IDA is part of a 2:1 match savings program (matched up to $2,000) which is being operated by Hawaiian Community Assets.

The purpose of this account is to assist individuals and families in establishing a savings account where they will save toward a goal such as home ownership, furthering their education, or debt reduction.

Those seeking to participate in this program must meet with a representative from Hawaiian Community Assets and attend at lease one two-hour financial counseling session.

Emergency Financial Assistance

The Emergency Financial Assistance program provides temporary financial assistance for individuals and families who have been facing hardship due to an unexpected emergency situation Applicants must be able to show the emergency situation has since been resolved and they are financially stable. Applicants must attend a financial literacy workshop.

Information and Referral

For information on other types of services not available through the Pūnāwai program, staff will connect you with agencies that may offer the type of service you are seeking.

General Eligibility Requirements

Applicants must be:

  1. Native Hawaiian – Must be able to show proof of Hawaiian Ancestry by providing one of the following:
    • Birth certificate
    • OHA Hawaiian Registry Card
    • Department of Hawaiian Home Lands verification
    • Kamehameha Schools verification
  2. Household income must be at or below 250% of Federal Poverty Guidelines for Hawai‘i.

Call one of our partnering offices listed below to find out if you are eligible for services provided through the Pūnāwai Program.

Pūnāwai Program Partners

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