By J .King, homeowner

I was offered the brochure and application at my job interview, which gave me more information on what self-help housing really was. I had heard about it but didn’t know too much about it. I was hired by the company in January 2010, and turned in my application for the wait list on that day. At the time, I had really bad credit and knew if I ever wanted this to happen, I needed to take care of my credit issues. Had I not started this job, I would’ve never considered fixing my credit.

So, one day I had a counseling session with our Loan Specialist, Shelly Baligad. We sat down, went over my credit report and she pointed out everything that was derogatory and said these items need to be taken care of in order to be considered as a participant. She referred me to Leilani Anzai of Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Hilo. With Leilani, we went over a budget and three-year payment plan. I kept up with payments for about a year, then ran into struggles and could no longer keep up with the payments. After a few years of families coming in and out of our office, asking if I had built a home through our program, I tried again to fix my credit. I had another counseling session with Shelly, who then referred me to Hawaiian Community Assets (HCA). I turned in all intake forms, attended their Homebuyer Education class, and got a counseling session with Kelly Lincoln.

This is where things finally started moving! HCA offers so many wonderful programs! As Kelly and I went over my credit report, she offered me the programs that fit my credit concerns. I had a large collection on my report, and HCA paid the debt collector off and set up a one-year payment plan with me. In return, the collection was wiped off my credit report, and the payments I made to HCA were being reported to the credit bureaus, which boosted my score! After one year, I had no derogatory marks on my report, and my credit score was above the required score of 640 to become a participant. Just in time for the Hawaiian Paradise Park Phase 6 project!

After turning in all required forms, I was so happy to finally receive the USDA loan application, instead of the withdrawal letter (which I’ve always received in the past due to my credit issues). It took me nearly eight years to get to this point and I’m so glad that I never gave up! I was finally able to attend the lot pulling meeting, I was finally able to make choices for myself, I was finally able to see what it was like to be a participant! It all still didn’t feel real, until the day came to frame OUR home! In one weekend, we framed the whole house, installed all sidings, windows and roof! After our workday was over, I picked up my kids and drove them over to show them what we’ve been working on! I drove them past our lot every day and they were tired of just looking at an empty lot! Now they could actually see a house!

We all walked through the house, they were so excited to walk into their own rooms and imagine what it would look like once the house was complete! After eight months, through all the blood, sweat, tears, missile threats and lava flows, all 11 homes in our group was completed! It wasn’t always happiness and rainbows! It was rough & tiring considering I had no days off! I was a full time worker from Monday-Friday, and building homes every Saturday and Sunday! And not to mention, I was going through the worst personal issues imaginable! I nearly gave up! As I pushed through, the end result was worth everything! A home to call our own! I’m thankful for all of my co-workers who’ve taught me so much in all the years I’ve been employed here and kept pushing me to pursue this dream. They’re definitely my second family! I’m thankful for the 10 other families who built beside me, pursuing the same dream. And I’m thankful for my sons, the reason I push myself to limits every day, so they can have a better future.


Also in this issue of Self-Help Builder: