Hawaiian Community Assets

Native Hawaiian Woman Recognized as "Champion of Change" by White House 


December 5, 2011




Media Release




Desiree w Sen Hanabusa & Tutu
Desiree Vea (left) and her grandmother (right) visit with Senator Colleen Hanabusa in Washington DC. 

WASHINGTON, DC - Kauai resident, Desiree Vea, has been recognized as a "Champion of Change" by the President Obama Administration.  The 24-year old Vea was chosen as 1 of 11 young Native leaders for her work with Hawaiian Community Assets (HCA) in delivering culturally-appropriate housing education, counseling, and asset building programs to assist homeless families secure and sustain permanent housing.


"Being recognized is definitely a surprise.  My passion for housing issues stems from guidance by community and inspiring leaders that have set the path - Kehaulani Filimoeatu and Blossom Feiteira," says Ms. Vea, recognizing HCA's co-founders and long-time Native Hawaiian housing advocates.  "It is a community effort and everything I do is inspired by the families I work with."


The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama's Winning the Future initiative. Each week, a different issue is highlighted and groups of champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community activists, are recognized for the work they are doing to better their communities.


Vea attended the program to highlight housing barriers identified by Native Hawaiian families.  According to the Hawaii HOME Project, 37% of the state's homeless families are Native Hawaiian while the most recent Census data available reported the homeownership rate of Hawaii's Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders is at 46.7%, or 9.8% and 19.5% less than the state and national averages, respectively.


"The families I work with see the barriers and solutions; I help them see the steps to reach their end goal," continues Vea.  "Our kupuna, our ancestors were the best planners and asset managers in the world - it is in the wisdom of those that came before us that we will find solutions."

In the coming year, Vea will lead the expansion of HCA's renter education and counseling program and work with community to develop the organization's Kahua Waiwai, Renter Edition, a culturally-appropriate housing curriculum that carries forward the values and traditions of Native Hawaiian ancestors into the process of securing and sustaining permanent housing.



Hawaiian Community Assets (HCA) is a HUD-certified housing counseling agency and Native Community Development Financial Institution that builds the capacity of low- and moderate-income families to achieve and sustain economic self-sufficiency with a particular focus on serving Native Hawaiians.




Media Release Contact:
Noelle Kai Desaki
Fund Development and Communications
(P) 1.866.400.1116
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