City looks to divest affordable housing properties

Stephen Lohse
Stephen Lohse
Mayor Carlisle
Mayor Carlisle

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu is looking to get out of the property management business as a way of freeing up financial obligations and resources.

The city owns 12 affordable housing rentals accounting for more than 1,200 apartments.  They don't bring in much revenue but do bring in significant liability.

"In terms of being landlords people in the government do a really, really poor job," said Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle during his speech.

"We agree, I think most people agree housing is not a core competence of the city," said Stephen Lohse, founder of the Chinatown Gateway Tenant Association.

The Chinatown Gateway Plaza is one of the bigger city owned buildings with 27 floors and 200 units.  Lohse has lived there 11 years and pays $980 for his one bedroom apartment.

"If there is any issue that really scares people it's messing with their homes," said Lohse.

He says the city could do better and wouldn't mind a change in ownership.

"We don't oppose the sale so long as the city sells to qualified affordable housing owners and managers," said Lohse.

That's the key.  If the city sells the properties tenants want the guarantee they will remain affordable so that more people don't end up homeless. So can Carlisle close the deal and keep rent affordable?

"Is it something that can be looked at in the immediate future, yes because people have already expressed interest in taking them over as affordable housing," said Mayor Carlisle.

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