Henderson, a Native Hawaiian beneficiary of the Hawaiian Home Lands program, provides comprehensive outreach and advocacy to assist the over 60,000 eligible Native Hawaiians in applying for and keeping homestead housing.
Too many Native Hawaiians are landless in their own birthplace. The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands’ (DHHL) homesteading program—which offers 99 year homestead leases at $1 per year for residential, agricultural, or pastoral purposes to Native Hawaiians with at least 50% blood quantum—is the best affordable housing option for Native Hawaiians today. More leases for homesteads must be issued, and those fortunate enough to receive a lease need assistance meeting their legal and financial obligations. Lease cancellation risks intergenerational disruption, since leases may be extended for up to 199 years total, and exacerbates Hawaii’s homeless crisis, which is the worst in the country and affects Native Hawaiians disproportionately.
Henderson’s project empowers Native Hawaiians who are eligible to participate in the Hawaiian Home Lands homestead lease program. He does so by educating them on their legal rights, providing direct legal services, advocating for policy reform, and fostering community partnerships and collaboration—all in service to individual beneficiaries and homesteading communities statewide. Henderson’s upbringing in the Waimānalo, Oʻahu homesteading community helped inform the creation of this project. Witnessing first-hand the challenges his community faced, the potential long-term benefits the Home Lands program offers Native Hawaiian families, and the stories of struggle and triumph shared by kupuna (elders) motivated Henderson to find a way to empower and advocate for his community.
Fellowship Highlights to Date
In the first year of the Fellowship, Henderson has:
- Developed several components of a handbook for Native Hawaiian beneficiaries that outlines their legal rights and obligations.
- Developed and fostered community partnerships with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and several Native Hawaiian serving organizations to collaborate on the implementation of this Fellowship and to identify common legal concerns.
- Provided information, advice, and brief services benefiting 83 Native Hawaiian beneficiaries statewide.
- Provided full legal representation to six individuals, including one high-impact case which affects or impacts all Native Hawaiian beneficiaries.
- Participated in several community events, where he presented information regarding the Fellowship, the available services, and common legal barriers faced by Native Hawaiian beneficiaries.
In the next six months, Henderson plans to:
- Continue providing direct legal services to Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries and lessees.
- Publish a handbook for Native Hawaiian beneficiaries that outlines their legal rights and obligations.
- Host seven pop-up legal clinic programs to provide beneficiaries with educational materials and legal resources and services.
Having benefitted from the homestead program, I fully understand the intergenerational stability a homestead provides an ʻohana (family). Homesteading opportunities can make the difference between stable housing or no housing at all.
Henderson Huihui /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow
Foreign nationals are greatly affected by human trafficking. These immigrant survivors of human trafficking not only need services that are victim-centered and trauma-informed, they also need culturally competent and linguistically appropriate services.
As a Crime Victims Justice Corps Fellow, Phatchara provided comprehensive and direct legal services to immigrant survivors of human trafficking. These direct services were trauma-informed, and culturally competent. Phatchara is bilingual and speaks both Thai and English. He was raised in Thailand and is educated in both Thai and U.S. law. He also received training in providing services that are trauma-informed and culturally competent. This enabled him to fully assist Thai survivors by addressing not only legal issues but also culturally specific issues that prevent survivors from receiving necessary services. These comprehensive services included, but were not limited to, providing advice on legal rights and remedies available and assisting survivors to obtain a T Visa, U Visa, or adjustment of status.
Phatchara also assisted his host organization, the Thai Community Development Center, to strengthen already existing partnerships with various organizations, especially partner organizations in the Asian Pacific Islander Human Trafficking Task Force and to build new partnerships to strengthen community’s capacity to provide comprehensive services to immigrant survivors through community collaborations.