Local Connection: Affordable Housing

Local Connection: Affordable Housing

By: Rick Blangiardi

Well, we finally know how many housing units are needed to keep up with demand in Hawaii just in the next two years: 50,000. 

That's a staggering amount and nobody knows if we're close to meeting that goal, according to those at a state and house leadership briefing last week.

What became clear at that briefing is that nobody is tracking the overall number and nobody is being held responsible for coming up with a plan.

For example, there are 43,000 applications to build homes on Hawaiian homelands and a 10,000-application waiting list for Hawaii public housing. Public housing is already at 98 percent occupancy.

What's even more depressing is the lack of affordable housing, much less housing overall. 

What's considered affordable? If your household income is $64,000 you shouldn't be paying more than $1,600 a month in rent or mortgage. But an estimated 12 million rents and homeowners nationwide are paying more than 50 percent of their incomes for housing.

Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland suggested that we all rent out a room or build a small unit to help with the lack of inventory. It's a nice idea but we have a housing crisis and we at least deserve to know at least how close we are to meeting current and future demand.

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