DHHL Reports 2020 Beneficiary Study Results

Listen to this Article
2 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) shares results from their 2020 Beneficiary Study.

The study utilized two self-administered surveys, aimed to provide statistically reliable data and assess the current condition and needs of lessees and Waiting List applicants as of August 2020.

DHHL last conducted a Beneficiary Survey in 2014, with previous studies conducted in 2008, 2003, and 1995.

“These survey results validate much of what the Department has heard in meeting with the beneficiary community,” said Deputy to the Chair Tyler Iokepa Gomes. “These confirmed results fuel our push to develop creative solutions, both in development and in funding.”


The Department continues to expand its list of affordable housing products, including multi-family units, affordable rentals, subsistence agriculture lots, and vacant lots with infrastructure.

Major Findings

Based on applicants’ indicated preferences, a single-family home that is move-in ready was the most desired product. However, responses show that some may not be able to financially qualify. Oʻahu continues to be the most sought-after location for applicants with over 50 percent listing it as their first choice for a Homestead Award.


The Applicant Study also found that the number of unduplicated applicants has increased by nine percent since the 2014 survey.

DHHL applicants earning less than 80 percent of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Area Median Income (AMI) increased in 2020. In 2014, 45 percent of applicants were classified as below the 80 percent HUD AMI. In 2020, this number increased to 51 percent.

The Lessee Study found that the demographic has remained relatively consistent since the 2014 survey. The age distribution among lessees, as well as the median age of 62 years, remained the same in 2020 as in 2014. Similarly, the average household size has been at four individuals for more than a decade.


According to survey results, the median household income among lessee households has increased significantly, climbing from $48,731 in 2008 to $59,600 in 2014 and $74,954 in 2020. In line with the increase in median household income, the present study found that a slightly smaller proportion of lessees are currently below the HUD 80 percent of AMI guide than in 2014.

In addition, the Lessee Survey also evaluated residents’ perceptions concerning community safety, community involvement, and future plans. The results showed that lessees generally feel safer in their homestead communities and feel a sense of unity with other lessees. Homestead community members typically rated their communities favorably and do not consider moving away. Many survey takers noted that they hope future generations will continue living on homestead land. Responses did reveal a potential opportunity to increase community involvement among lessees.

To view survey results in full, visit

Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Big Island Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments