Local developer: public private partnership key for affordable housing to end homelessness

Local developer: public private partnership key for affordable housing to end homelessness

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A well-known local developer with experience building transitional housing says a public private partnership is key to infusing Hawai'i's housing market with much-needed low-income rentals that could help get people off the streets.

Experts on homelessness say it is one of our biggest obstacles.

"There's definitely a challenge of affordable housing in Hawaii - I don't want to pretend otherwise. It's complicated and it can take time to expand the supply of affordable housing and permanent supportive housing," said Matthew Doherty, the Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Officials estimate it will take years. Just last week, Governor David Ige said his office was trying to accelerate the process as quickly
as it can within the restraints of current laws.

"Even if we had all of the resources lined up and we had a parcel identified -- it would take five years from saying go til when the project would be open," said Ige.
But local developer Stanford Carr says there is no need to wait that long.

"In a year and a half, you could identify a site, design, construct and move people in within an 18 month period. It's all doable," Carr said, pointing to his recent Halekauwili project as proof. The 19-story high-rise rental -- complete with 260 stalls for parking and retail space -- was built in 15 months.

"Give us the tools. Cut through the regulatory oversight and let us do our jobs," said Carr, adding that industry professionals are coming up with creative and cost-effective ideas -- like a future Cooke Street project in which a 10,000 square foot lot was designed to accommodate 109 units in just nine floors.

But Carr says private industry can only do so much. He says developers need the government's assistance to speed up the process. He says existing state statutues, like 201H, can expedite re-zoning without cutting checks and balances.
"I think the building community would all like to participate. There is the will in the private industry to contribute and paddle our part of the canoe to help solve the problems. What we all need to do is just get in the room to work out the logistics and how we can break down these barriers so that we can realize that the necessary housing and see some measurable results in our community," Carr said.

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