Hawaii state grant paid for land used by Extreme Makeover for Hawaii house

There’s more to the story about the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition house that was built in Hawaii for a couple that makes more than $225K a year.

Theresa Leimomi Akana’s “3,500 square foot home … is built on land purchased just six months ago by the nonprofit agency she founded and now heads.” The land cost $2.7 million, and the nonprofit “group used a $2 million grant-in-aid approved by the state legislature earlier last year to make the purchase,” Ian Lind reports.

Because of that, the organization actually owns the home. The show’s cast and “crew also built a second structure for use by Keiki O Ka Aina as a community recreation center. Both buildings are owned by the nonprofit group, although the Akana family will occupy the residence.”

As to the controversy about Akana’s need, the nonprofit “applied as an organization,” Kanoe Naone said. “What happened was they got back to us and said, ‘we don’t actually do non-profits, we do families, but we’re interested in the fact that you have affected so many families.’ … We had fifteen staff members who had great stories, and ABC picked hers.”

Lind notes that “producers pointed to Akana’s actions more than a decade ago in founding the group when she was a welfare mother, and sustaining it at times using her own food stamps to buy snacks for participating children.” He notes that her “programs have received universal praise, [but] Akana no longer seems to fit the profile of someone desperately in personal need of the assistance of the network and the thousands of local donors and volunteers they were able to mobilize.”

“Extreme Makeover” home built on land purchased with state grant to a nonprofit agency [Ian Lind]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.