HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
There's been a lot of attention given to new condominium construction in areas like Kakaako, but how many people can actually afford some of those units? That was a question tackled by a summit on affordable housing at the State Capitol.
"There's a lot of discussion about the high-end housing we see going up in the urban core," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. "
and people are wondering, 'Hey, what about housing for the rest of us?'"
Many of those people showed up at Saturday's summit organized by Faith Action for Community Equity, also known as FACE.
There was some discussion about the homeless, with one possible solution coming in the form of renovated container units, turned into housing.
"We need to take away the stigma of homeless housing away from the subject," said Craig Chapman of Lanihuli Community Development Corporation, which has been building the container homes. "What we're really trying to look at now is how can we get the working poor families get back into their community."
But it's not just the working poor or homeless. It includes the middle class as well, according to organizers.
"Your nurses, your firemen, your policemen, people you don't necessarily consider 'needy' that actually struggle with affordable housing," said James Fitzpatrick of Hawaii Health Connector and a community organizer with FACE.
Right now, 30 percent of new housing projects must be affordable for people making 140 percent of the area's median income, or about $134,000 for a family of four. According to the Honolulu Board of Realtors, the median sales price for a single-family home in Honolulu last month was $690,000.
Building housing that's more affordable will be a challenge for a variety of reasons, including community opposition.
"When you try to build an affordable housing project in a community, you oftentimes run into NIMBY's who don't want you to build it there for many different reasons," said John White of Pacific Resource Partnership.
But the discussion has begun, and organizers are hopeful.
"People have been talking about this for a very long time," said Fitzpatrick. "So the step after talking -- we need to have actions and decisions."