City unveils new housing plan

City unveils new housing plan
Published: Sep. 12, 2014 at 2:28 AM HST|Updated: Sep. 12, 2014 at 3:28 AM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city calls it a bold, controversial approach to dealing with Honolulu's housing problem. But some low-income housing advocates believe it doesn't go far enough.

"We're throwing out a controversial, new proposal to try to see if we can't get a new model in place," said Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Currently, developers are required to build 30 percent of all projects that require rezoning at prices affordable for families making 120 percent of the area median income or less. That's about $134,000 a year for a family of four.

But under the new plan, family income levels for the affordable units drop to 120 percent of the median, or $115,000 or less.

The city also wants developer to set aside 15 percent of their inventory for rentals units for families making $76,000 or less.

"Under the current city affordable housing policy, developers are not required to set aside affordable rentals where there is a definite and clear need in our community," said City Council member Ron Menor.

Low-income housing advocates say the plan extend the amount of time the units have to remain affordable from ten years to 30 or even 60 years, increasing the inventory of housing for the working class.

"Sixty years of affordability is a big plus no questions asked," said Rev. Robert Nakata, of Faith Action for Community Equity.

"Basically it's a step in the right direction but it could go further."

Nakata hopes the city will consider lowering income limits below 120 percent of the median since families living in those areas are the hardest hit by the housing crisis.

Others believe the plan will hurt the middle-income buyers and renters.

"It seems like we're headed toward disaster because it's either our poor or our rich," said Chinatown Gateway Plaza resident Jane Pascual.

"What happened to the middle class?"

The plan next goes to the city council for deliberation.

Copyright 2014 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.