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Lifestyle // Good Neighbors
Christina O’Connor

Reina Miyamoto, HomeOwnership Center

Reina Miyamoto, HomeOwnership Center

It might not be what you would expect to hear from the Hawaii HomeOwnership Center, but center program director Reina Miyamoto admits that “buying a house is one of the scariest experiences of your life because it’s such a big financial commitment.”

Fortunately for anybody who is considering buying a house, the Hawaii HomeOwnership Center is here to take some of the intimidation out of the process. On June 16, the organization hosts the free annual Homebuyer and Homeowner Fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Ala Moana Hotel.

“It’s really about being a one-stop shop for first-time buyers,” explains Miyamoto, who serves as the event chairwoman. “It’s so that people will know that home ownership is possible.” As many struggle to overcome tough economic times, buying a house can be especially daunting. “I think (the fair) helps make the first step into feeling more comfortable about the purchase,” Miyamoto adds.

During the last five years, the fair has helped hundreds become homeowners or avoid foreclosure and connected thousands with assistance programs. The event was started by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development along with various local partners. The HomeOwnership Center, which provides education, information and support for homebuyers, has been leading the event for the past several years. The fair includes workshops and vendors who address issues including homeownership readiness, managing credit, assistance programs, and the home-shopping process in general. Participating groups include HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union, HomeStreet Bank, Bank of Hawaii, the USDA, Hawaiian Community Assets, Honolulu Board of Realtors, Habitat for Humanity and more.

The fair also targets groups in need of other types of homeownership assistance. In accordance with the center’s mission to increase the number of low- to moderate-income homeowners, the fair has connected homeless families with agencies that have helped them find and keep a home by covering topics that are specific to their needs.

The fair also lends assistance to those who already own homes. “We have some agencies that are there to help distressed owners who already bought a house, but are maybe having some mortgage problems,” Miyamoto says.

This is Miyamoto’s fifth year chairing the fair, and she says it’s one of her favorite projects to work on. “Even if I don’t have my hand in every single person’s experience, it has been amazing … just to be part of (the event), where people can really make life changes, not just for themselves, but for their kids and for the long term.”

For more information, visit hihomeownership.org or hihomebuyerfair.org, or call 523-9500. “Like” the Hawaii HomeOwnership Center’s facebook page at facebook.com/HiHomeOwnership to be entered in prize drawings at the event.

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