Plan for 752-unit affordable housing project on Maui gets community pushback

Affordable housing is a huge issue on Maui, where the median price for a single-family home is more than $1 million.
Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 6:21 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 25, 2022 at 7:12 PM HST
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WAIEHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Affordable housing is a huge issue on Maui, where the median price for a single-family home is more than $1 million.

But one affordable housing project slated for Waiehu is getting pushback from the community.

“We have a desperate need for affordable housing, but we also have a desperate need for infrastructure,” said Waiehu resident Thomas Parr.

“We’re talking about cutting back water here in Hawaii, especially on Maui, because of the drought conditions. We have a huge influx of tourists, and I don’t see how we’re going to be able to supply water to our own people here.”

Parr and his wife Barbara are farmers in Waiehu and have been there for 24 years.

While they said they understand the need for more affordable housing on Maui, they are worried about the county’s plan to develop 752 affordable housing units in their backyard.

“Streets, roads, crosswalks, or actual stoplights, because the traffic is horrendous in the morning and horrendous in the evening, and at noon it’s just as bad. It didn’t used to be that way,” Barbara said.

Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino proposed $1 million in his budget to begin work on the extension of Imi Kala Street in the Wailuku millyard.

He said that will be a vital piece in future developments of attainable housing.

The state representative for the area said more needs to be done to mitigate traffic.

“The road extension is one thing. One of the things that I’ve been pushing the Department of Education to really look at is trying to stagger the start of school times because in the morning, there’s just a mad rush for all three levels of schooling to get to school,” said state Rep. Troy Hashimoto.

The proposed development would go on 238-undeveloped acres west of Kahekili Highway.

Along with the housing, the plan includes amenities such as park space, walking trails, and landscaped areas.

“When you add those kinds of conditions and those kinds of costs, you wonder, how is that gonna affect the affordability of the houses,” said Maui Council Chair Alice Lee.

“Also, my understanding is that project will have to build a pump station and force main for sewer disposal. So, that I understand may be in the neighborhood of $10 to $15 million. Again, these are lots and lots of costs that have to be taken into consideration.”

The county is seeking more public input.

“People who are concerned should absolutely comment on the draft EA (environmental assessment) and should keep an eye out for when the project appears before the council so that they can testify and have their concerns heard,” said Maui Planning Director Michele McLean.

Construction is slated to start in 2024 and expected to be completed in 2032.

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