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West // West Oahu News
Jaimie Kim

DHHL Lessees Now Have Homes Of Their Own In West Oahu

Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and Habitat for Humanity Leeward Oahu recently joined forces to provide two area families with new homes.

“(Our mission) is to eliminate poverty housing for financially challenged families on the Leeward Coast,” said Habitat for Humanity Leeward Oahu executive director Jo Bautista.

The Mahoe family and Ernest Heanu, who are DHHL lessees, were selected by the organization to receive the homes. Volunteers for the construction of the homes included contractors, family and friends, and members of the U.S. Navy.

Prior to leasing land from DHHL, Willy and Marlyne Mahoe and their two children were homeless.

“It felt awesome,” said Marlyne about receiving the key to their new home.

“It’s a blessing to have a home right now,” she added, noting that her 21-year-old son is especially grateful as this will be the first time he’s ever had his own bedroom.

Habitat for Humanity Leeward Oahu first began its relationship with Heanu, a hearingand speech-impaired landscaper for Kaiser Permanente, in 2011. He and his wife, Jessie, who also was hearingand speech-impaired, had qualified for a two-bedroom, one-bath home as DHHL lessees.

In 2012, however, the organization learned of Jessie’s battle with cancer. Her wish was to enter her new home before passing away. Though they sought to put a rush on building permits, Jessie died before the couple’s dream could come be realized.

“Using sign language and gestures, he has made it very clear that Jessie is looking down from heaven as we build their home,” said Bautista of the construction process.

The completion of construction was celebrated with a key ceremony last month, in which Heanu and the Mahoes received keys to their new homes.

Sgt. 1st Class James Morton presented Ernest Heanu (top) and the Mahoe family (below) with flags from the USS Arizona and $250 Wal-Mart gift cards donated by military servicemembers. The gifts were presented to the families during the key ceremony in December.

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