Housing Solutions Discussed in the Senate

HONOLULU, Hawai‘i - The status of the state’s affordable housing projects led the discussion during the recent joint informational briefing at the State Capitol with the Senate and House Committees on Housing.

Committee members heard from Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority Director, Hakim Quansafi, who briefed state lawmakers on the variety of projects aimed at addressing the lack of available public housing for Hawai‘i residents in need of affordable housing. The State has identified a need for an additional 64,700 housing units to meet the projected long-term housing demand. To ease the demand, HPHA is hoping to add thousands of housing units along the Honolulu rail route through a public-private partnership. In total, 10-transit oriented development projects identified by HPHA could add up to 10,600 new housing units in the coming years. Two projects in the early stages of development include the redevelopment of Mayor Wright Housing in Palama and Kuhio Park Terrace in Kalihi. The redevelopment of the Mayor Wright parcel will feature up to 546 housing units and over 40,000 square feet of commercial space. The project would provide new housing for current residents and create additional affordable workforce housing and market-priced units

“Unleashing the potential of Honolulu’s rail system with transit-oriented development projects like Mayor Wright will go far in addressing the critical housing shortage our working families face. I look forward to engaging with our state’s housing agencies to identify more state-owned parcels in the urban core that can be developed into high-density affordable housing projects,” said Sen. Espero.

According to the HPHA, there currently is a 10-year, $815 million repair and maintenance backlog. In the last Legislative session, lawmakers provided $20.175 million to address the backlog and safety improvements. In an effort to address the affordable housing crunch, Lawmakers passed HB1179 which expands the types of rental housing projects that can be exempt from general excise tax, encouraging the development of rental housing projects targeted for low-income residents. The Legislature also passed SB1244 authorizing the Hawai‘i Community Development Authority to waive its right to repurchase affordable housing units and transfer that right to repurchase to a qualified nonprofit housing trust on the condition the units remain affordable housing units. SCR154 requests the Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation to develop a plan to best leverage available state and county resources to develop affordable housing projects, including the transfer of a parcel of land on Maui for the purpose of developing a mixed-use rental housing project.

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