Mayor wants to bolster affordable housing requirements for developers

Mayor wants to bolster affordable housing requirements for developers

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mayor Kirk Caldwell released his strategy to increase affordable housing on Oahu on Wednesday, packed with new regulations and incentives for developers.

But not everyone supports the plan.

The mayor says more than 24,000 housing units are needed to address Oahu's housing crisis. He says the majority of the demand is for people who make less than 80 percent of the Area Median Income. That's $58,600 for a single person and $83,700 for a family of four.

"If we're not going to become a gated community for local folks and exclude people that were born and raised her and force them to move to other places, we need to break the mold and break the model we've been operating for decades," Caldwell said.

Caldwell's plan is aimed at home buyers earning at or below the 120 percent of the AMI and renters at or below 80 percent of the AMI.

To entice developers, he is proposing waivers of certain fees and property taxes, as well as inexpensive city-owned land.

"We will offer to developers properties at a $1 year lease and we'll help build infrastructure if they help build affordable housing projects," Caldwell said.

His plan also places new affordable housing requirements on developers who want to build higher-priced units.

"A little rule can go a long way in determining that they won't go ahead and do this," said housing consultant Ricky Cassiday.

The mayor's proposal requires affordable units be built in new projects and subdivisions with 10 or more housing units, and increases the time units must remain on the market as affordable from 10 to 30 years. 
    
"To date, I'm not convinced that this will help. Sometimes policy comes in and interferes with the marketplace in a way that doesn't work," Cassiday said.

If passed, these rules will be rolled out first in Ala Moana, Downtown and Chinatown and then expanded islandwide over a three year period.

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