SA: 2 Projects for Hawaiian Homestead (1/18/22)

2 projects to benefit Hawaiian homestead families
By Star-Advertiser Staff, 18 Jan. 2022

The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations recently announced two separate projects for beneficiaries.

Through recent federal law and expanded service options, homestead lessees, tenants and permittees will now have more broadband telecommunication options, DHHL announced Thursday. For many years the embattled Sandwich Isles Communications, which has been fined millions of dollars over the past several years, was the exclusive provider of telephone and internet serv­ices on homestead lands.

William Aila Jr., DHHL director and Hawaiian Homes Commission chairman, sent a letter Friday notifying homestead families of the change. Homestead families can choose to continue their current service or select from other providers, including Hawaiian Telcom and Spectrum.

The department also plans to provide the Native Hawaiian community with more access to high-speed internet through about $90 million in funds from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. More details on the project are expected later this year.

The Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations also completed installation of a modern membership enrollment database in late 2021. In 2019, homestead and wait-list leaders worked to upgrade technology for a database that allows beneficiaries to register, engage and vote in homestead association elections beginning in 2023.

SCHHA, the largest statewide organization representing all Hawaiians eligible for homesteads, plans to pilot enrollment at four homestead associations, including the Association of Hawaiians for Homestead Lands, a statewide nonprofit representing those on the wait list. By doing this, homestead associations will be able to issue identification cards and enroll lessees, those on the wait list, successors and families who want to participate in homestead issues.

“It’s been a labor of necessity, in this day and age, to bring our member enrollment system into the 21st century, and best of all, to create an enrollment process that serves many different homestead associations like ours on Molokai,” said Kammy Purdy, a SCHHA leader and member of the Hoolehua Hawaiian Agricultural Association on Molokai, in a statement.

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