Evening view of a local village at north-east shore of West Maui, on Kahekili Highway 340, Hawaii, USA.

By Elliott Bochstein, RCAC Staff Writer

HCA operates four Financial Opportunity Centers located on four islands in Anahola, Kaua‘i; Hilo, Hawai‘i; Honolulu, O‘ahu and Wailuku, Maui.

Hawaiian Community Assets, Inc. (HCA) is a certified U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) housing counseling agency and financial education provider that aims to assist low- and moderate-income residents, especially Native Hawaiians, to achieve economic self-sufficiency. In addition to housing counseling and financial education services, HCA operates a Native Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) to enhance Native Hawaiians’ access to capital. The Wells Fargo Keeping People Housed initiative channels grant funding to HCA via Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), a national housing counseling intermediary.

The Wells Fargo-RCAC-HCA partnership’s impact comes alive in the experiences of HCA clients like Gwen Yip Chow. Gwen initially approached HCA for financial aid for her auto repairs. However, she was not eligible for the auto repair loan because she was still making payments on her vehicle. While discussing this with Mariah Espaniola, HCA’s Lead Community Service Specialist, Gwen explained how her income was falling short of her monthly bills, forcing her to dip into savings to make up the difference. The financial strain was beginning to jeopardize her housing security.

“Mariah felt my situation’s urgency,” Gwen explained. The counselor suggested that while she may be ineligible for the auto repair loan, a debt consolidation loan was a viable possibility. The suggestion offered Gwen a glimmer of hope. Encouraged, she committed herself to HCA’s comprehensive counseling, classes and workshops, ultimately achieving debt consolidation.

This success enabled Gwen to pay off her $15,000 auto loan and close five credit cards, significantly improving her financial and housing stability. She credits her success to HCA’s dedicated staff and their “Aloha Spirit.”

“I would like to express my sincere gratefulness for this opportunity and the happiness, relief, and blessings bestowed on me through an organization whose unique, holistic approach embeds spiritual and cultural values with financial and housing stability so I may have a secure future,” Chow said.