Mayor identifies affordable workforce rentals as a top priority

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Updated: Jan. 27, 2021 at 5:41 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Rick Blangiardi’s first piece of legislation as Honolulu’s mayor calls for grant money to help fund more affordable rental units.

What makes this plan different is the units would be constructed or remodeled specifically as workforce housing ― renters making close to the area median income.

”The gap” is what Christine Camp, president of Avalon Development Company, calls that group.

“This is the gap which funding isn’t available,” she said.

Camp said while there are many federal and state programs for the very low income, there are few housing assistance programs for workforce households, or those making between 80% and 100% of the area median income. That’s $71,100 for a single person and $101,600 for a family of four.

“You’re looking at teachers, you’re looking at policemen, you’re looking at people that want to be in housing but it’s very difficult in Hawaii for them to be affordable,” said Anton Krucky, executive director of the City Office of Housing.

If Bill 1-2021 passes, $10 million would be set aside for 1,100 units.

Property owners or developers could request grant money, up to $9,000 per unit, to remodel or construct the units.

“A lot of these properties around town that have fallen on hard times, need to be revamped, remodeled, to make liveable,” Blangiardi said.

While the application is submitted ahead of the project, the money won’t be released until the unit is ready to rent. The city said that ensures the money isn’t wasted if the project falls through.

Camp said that’s her one complaint about the idea, that the money doesn’t help with the upfront, hard-to-finance construction costs.

The bill is still in the early phases but if it passes and is successful, the mayor’s office said expansion is possible.

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