Tiny homes highlight one solution to Hawaii's housing shortage

Tiny homes highlight one solution to Hawaii's housing shortage
Published: Apr. 3, 2017 at 5:18 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 3, 2017 at 6:56 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A little home that was recently constructed on the State Capitol lawn is attracting lots of attention.

Habitat for Humanity teamed up with the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice to build the ADU, or accessory dwelling unit, to help raise awareness about ways to help ease the state's affordable housing shortage.

"The lack of affordable housing, especially affordable rentals, has reached crisis proportions," said Ron Menor, chair of the Honolulu City Council.

The unit has 400 square feet of floor space and features a solar photovoltaic system for energy needs. Materials and labor were donated by various local companies. The estimated cost for labor and materials, excluding the PV system, is about $65,000 for the studio unit.

"To be able to see someone be able to produce a home, $20,000 kit, (plus) some construction costs, but it's really affordable, this can be absolutely the game changer for our society," said state Sen. Josh Green (D, Kona-Kau).

As of late March, 1,386 homeowners had submitted pre-check forms to find out if their properties qualified for an ADU. The city rejected 249 of them, mainly due to a lack of sewer capacity in the neighborhood. The city has received 174 building permit applications for the units and approved 154 of them. 20 applications were cancelled.

Deborah Zysman took out a loan to turn the bottom of her Manoa home into a one-bedroom apartment for rental income.

"You have to jump through some hoops, but I think it's as expected any time you're doing some building. We put in our permit last summer and it took about four months to get approved," she said.

The city is now required to issue permits within 60 days.

"The biggest backlog has generally been the pre-check forms submitted, so those can take a little bit of time because they've got to go around to the sewer department. If it's outside of city sewer, they've got to go to the Department of Health for a check on septic so that process can take awhile," explained Harrison Rue, the city's community building and transit-oriented development coordinator.

The ADU will be on display at the State Capitol until April 15.

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