Wailuku, Maui, HI (Feb. 10, 2022) – Hawaiian Community Assets (HCA) has announced that Chelsie Evans will lead efforts going forward as the organization’s new Executive Director. Jeff Gilbreath, who served as Interim Executive Director for the past year and previously led the organization from 2011 through 2019, will now focus exclusively on his role as Executive Director for Hawaii Community Lending (HCL), HCA’s partner organization.
The announcement comes at an exciting time for HCA and HCL as they have established the nation’s first-and-only network of Financial Opportunity Centers on all four islands and seen a 200% increase in the amount of affordable loans provided over the last two years. Together, the two organizations work to build the capacity of low- and moderate-income families, especially Native Hawaiians, to achieve and sustain economic self-sufficiency by increasing income, building assets, and securing affordable housing.
At HCA, Chelsie Evans will direct the organization which runs Hawai‘i’s largest Department of Housing and Urban Development-certified housing counseling agency, serving over 1,500 local residents annually with free financial counseling, income supports, and career coaching.
Helping Native Hawaiian and local residents fulfill their dreams of homeownership is a natural job path for Chelsie. As the former Executive Director of Maui Hui Malama, an organization that focuses on eliminating barriers for at-risk youth, Chelsie has a deep empathy for what many Native Hawaiians face on a daily basis. She has overcome challenges in her own life, and housing security has been a consistent barrier. Her struggles to secure housing while raising her son as a teen mom, and through job loss while taking care of her medically fragile daughter have not been an easy road. It is these experiences that have led Chelsie to the doorstep of Hawaiian Community Assets, ready to serve and advocate for Hawai‘i’s people.
With her roots in Makawao, Chelsie has traveled among the islands and has had the privilege of working with the Pana‘ewa Hawaiian Homestead community in advocacy for community development with Lili‘uokalani Trust. From there, she moved on to other organizations that helped her to grow as a native Hawaiian leader and provided her the opportunity to serve survivors of domestic violence, keiki displaced from their homes, and youth with barriers to their educational and career goals.
Chelsie’s keiki Tre’, Lhaia, and Violet have been the core of her desire to serve our community. While being a mom, she balanced her college classes, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in human services. She spoke at national symposiums for social justice and domestic violence, and founded Wrapped in Wings, an organization which supports critically ill children and their families. In 2019, she was offered and accepted the experience of being the Executive Director of Maui Hui Malama.
Now as Executive Director of HCA, Chelsie is committed to creating a thriving community that gives people options for the life experiences that Hawai‘i has to offer. “My desire is to be part of a larger community that unveils the inequities that Hawai‘i’s people have to go through. I hope that my experience both personally and professionally can help in closing the housing gap, lifting our people in demanding to be a part of change, and to deliver high quality financial and housing programs that are of the utmost need for our community.”
As a 501(c)3 community development nonprofit and HUD-certified housing counseling agency, HCA has a range of options for local families experiencing hardship or pursuing economic opportunities, from financial counseling and career coaching, to access to debt consolidation and down payment loans, and emergency grants and loans made available by HCL.
The latest offering of HCA and HCL is a series of workshops aimed at preventing foreclosures on Hawai‘i Island and Kaua‘i by providing options and financial assistance for homeowners. The “Know Your Options to Prevent Foreclosure” workshops are part of the Homeowner Assistance Fund, a $5-million pilot program administered by HCL, which launched on both islands in November 2021. Homeowners are encouraged to register for one of the hour-long online workshops by calling (808) 587-7656 or registering at www.hawaiiancommunity.net.
In addition to its online presence, HCA runs four Financial Opportunity Centers on Maui, O‘ahu, Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i Island. At the centers, HCA’s professionally trained financial counselors provide benefits such as renter and homebuyer workshops, individualized financial counseling, and access to grants and loans. With 12 counselors, HCA offers the largest number of HUD-certified counselors in the state.
“All of us at HCA and HCL have been called on to do more during these tough times to ensure that residents have the help they need, and that our outdated affordable housing systems are overhauled so our local people can live and raise their families here,” Jeff Gilbreath says. “The growth we have experienced made it critical for HCA to have a dedicated leader with multifaceted experience, and we have found that person in our new ED Chelsie Evans. The two of us heading up these sister organizations will better position us to re-envision a system that sees our local people and communities as our greatest assets, and that housing is a human right, not a privilege.”
For more information, please contact HCA toll-free (866) 400-1116, or visit www.hawaiiancommunity.net.