State seeking alternative affordable housing ideas from develope - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

State seeking alternative affordable housing ideas from developers

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The State announced an aggressive housing plan today and it's not a typical housing development.  The state is looking at creative ideas, including turning old storage containers into homes.

The proposed property is at 1002 North School Street at the corner of Lanakila Avenue.  It is home to Hawaii Public Housing Authority offices.  The Executive Director called the current buildings shacks.  They'll eventually be torn down.  Then the six acres will be developed with office space on the bottom and affordable housing on top.

Why is the state going after an aggressive affordable housing plan?

"Because every day we get additional people knocking on our doors please give us housing and we don't have it," said Hakim Ouansafi, Hawaii Public Housing Authority Executive Director.

Ouansafi says there are 28,000 people on the wait list in Hawaii to get into affordable housing.  This six acre property provides office space for 200 people, but he called it wasted space.  Instead it will be redeveloped to add 600 to 1,000 units.

"You cannot make a house pregnant. You just have to go out there and build something else and that's what we're trying to do," said Ouansafi.

From conception to construction they are looking for ideas outside the box but inside containers, as in using old shipping containers for housing and stacking them on top of each other.

"The containers as an example are very solid steel. They're able to do some amazing things. You actually can't even tell it is container living," said Ouansafi. "It's easy to stack, it's easy to weld and it's a very solid structure so we'll be looking at those creative ideas."

The State sent out the call to developers looking to partner up.  The state gets affordable housing.  The company could get tax credits, fees and other revenue streams.

"It may end up costing the state $40,000 per unit versus going on our own and spending $350,000 a unit," said Ouansafi.

It is money the Hawaii Public Housing Authority says will go a long way to helping the homeless.

"The development here on these six acres of our administrative lands will go a long way in meeting real needs for real people, too many of whom are living on the streets, too many of whom are raising children and working and returning to tents instead of a home. We can do better than that. We will do better than that," said David Gierlach, Hawaii Public Housing Authority Chair.

Construction could begin in about two years.

The State wants to secure 10,000 more affordable housing units in the next five years.  This is the third of seven planned projects.  Look for another announcement in about six months.

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