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Ceremony Marks Beginning of Subsistence Agriculture Homestead Community in South Hilo

April 8, 2022, 1:58 PM HST
* Updated April 8, 3:05 PM
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The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands held a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, April 8 for the first phase of its Honomū Subsistence Agriculture Homestead Community in South Hilo.

Phase 1 of the Honomū project, being developed by Isemoto Contracting Company with a projected cost of $2.8 million, will include 16 one-acre agricultural homestead lots under the department’s new subsistence agriculture administrative rules, a news release from DHHL stated. At completion, the Honomū Subsistence Agriculture Homestead Community is expected to include up to 375 parcels ranging in size from one to three acres.

“This development is going to be a tremendous opportunity for native Hawaiians to live and grow food for their families,” said Hawaiian Homes Commission Chair William J. Ailā, Jr in a news release about the project. “Kūhiō’s vision was not only getting native Hawaiians back on the land but also to bring life forth from it. This entire subdivision will be homestead farmers who will be doing just that.”

The department completed beneficiary consultation and the Chapter 91 rulemaking process for the new subsistence agriculture rules in 2018. An environmental assessment for the project was published at the end of 2019, with the final design for the project completed in 2020, and construction bids submitted in 2021.

DHHL’s new rules expand on the department’s agricultural product, eliminating the need for a farm business plan and the requirement that at least two-thirds of the acreage be under constant cultivation. Subsistence Agriculture Lessees will be permitted to build homes on their lots but are not required to do so.

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The Hawaiʻi State Legislature’s $600 million budget proposal for DHHL includes $2 million for the engineering design of Phase 2 of the Honomū project, which would add an additional 40 subsistence agriculture lots to the homestead community. The Legislature’s proposal envisions funding to develop nearly 3,000 new homestead lots statewide over the next five to eight years and provide funding for mortgage assistance to applicants on the DHHL waiting list.

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DHHL recently began infrastructure construction on 125 residential lots in the Villages of Laʻi ʻŌpua Village IV Hema Phase 2 subdivision in Kealakehe, Hawaiʻi Island. The next capital improvement project on Hawaiʻi Island is the installation of a new water tank for pastoral lessees in Kaʻū. The department anticipates breaking ground on the project in summer 2022.

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