Before even moving in, tenants of affordable Hawaii Kai units see rent hike

Before even moving in, tenants of affordable Hawaii Kai units see rent hike
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HAWAII KAI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Last year, some 200 people put their names in the lottery for one of 54 affordable units at 7000 Hawaii Kai Drive, a new rental-only complex in East Oahu.

Families who secured one of the 54 units -- 28 three-bedrooms and 26 two-bedrooms -- were ecstatic.

But just two months before families are set to move in, eight have dropped out.

That's because the rent was raised for those affordable units under the formula for rent limits set annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

When the project was announced, rent (minus a utilities allowance) was set at $2,293 a month for the three-bedroom units, and $1,485 a month for the two-bedroom apartments.

Now, rent for the three-bedroom units is going up by $342 a month, to $2,635.

Rent for the two-bedroom units is rising by $279 a month, to $1,764.

The first tenants are slated to move into 7000 Hawaii Kai Drive, which also features 215 market-rental units, on June 15.

"We understand the disappointment the families are having. We're disappointed as well," said Theresia McMurdo, vice president for Avalon Development, which is behind the project.

"The formula uses fair market rents (to determine what's affordable). It depends on what's happening in the economy, what's happening in the market."

Jun Yang, executive director for the city's Office of Housing, said all affordable developments with HUD restrictions must use the HUD formula for determining rents. "These rental limits, then, do apply to those properties as well," he said.

The limits fluctuate by year, and actually dropped this year on Kauai.

Yang said even though the rents went up, the new affordable units are much-needed.

"Fifty-four units in East Oahu is a great start, but if we're looking at it across our island, we do need more affordable housing," he said.

And there's a silver lining to the story.

Because the families dropped out, Avalon is looking to fill six, three-bedroom apartments immediately. Interested families can apply here.

Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.