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HCDA eyes new rules aimed at spurring affordable development in Kakaako

Updated: May. 31, 2017 at 11:00 AM HST
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KAKAAKO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In hopes of spurring new affordable development in Kakaako, the Hawaii Community Development Authority is considering several changes to its rules for workforce and reserved housing.

HCDA officials say many of the proposed rule changes provide an opportunity for professional workforce families to become homeowners.

These are described as "moderate" income households -- those who make 80 to 140 percent the area median income.

For a family of four in Hawaii, area median income is about $83,000 to $121,000.

HCDA officials describe this demographic as those who make too much to qualify for low-income government subsidy housing assistance, but who make too little to be able to afford market rate homes.

The proposed rule amendments under consideration target the reserved and workforce housing inventory in Kakaako.

Reserved housing is an existing requirement for new development that mandates at least 20 percent of available units be set aside for individuals who make 140 percent of area median income or lower.

Officials are considering a new rule that would lower that requirement to an average 120 percent or lower.

Officials say this will allow people at slightly lower incomes to be able to afford their own homes.

Another potential change would apply to any new workforce housing developments. Under a voluntary programs, developers would be able to double the density of their project if they ensure 75 percent of their units are affordable.

Now, many of the existing apartment and condominium dwellings in Kakaako that were built under reserved or workforce housing programs only require homeowners to hold on to their properties for five years before selling them.

Under a proposed amendment, the five-year requirement would be dropped for a continuous buyback provision that has no limit.

A final public hearing on the rules is set for Wednesday.

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