Report: Every zip code on Oahu is pricing out the average renter

Published: Jun. 9, 2017 at 12:47 AM HST|Updated: Jun. 9, 2017 at 1:43 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's no surprise that Hawaii has the highest housing costs in the nation.

But a new study shows that every zip code on Oahu is pricing out low- and moderate-income families.

The Out of Reach report from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition puts the hourly wage needed to earn an average two-bedroom on Oahu at $32.50, the highest in the nation.

The average renter wage in Hawaii, meanwhile, is just $15.64. (Hawaii had the largest gap in the nation between what renters earned and what they needed to afford housing).

The report also drills down to communities, calculating how much renters would need to earn to afford a two-bedroom unit at the fair market rent.

The community with the lowest required "housing wage" is Kunia (96759), where renters need to earn $22.50 an hour for a two-bedroom.

In Kapolei, renters need to earn $51.73 an hour. That's up there with Hawaii Kai, Kailua, Kaaawa and Wahiawa. Fair market rents for two-bedroom in those zip codes are about $2,690 a month.

Realtor Jack Legal said young people especially are struggling to afford the rising rents.

"They have to live with their families first," Legal said.

The report also mapped out the big differences in household incomes across the island.

Hawaii Kai's median income stands at $109.719, but Wahiawa -- where the needed "housing wage" was the same -- has a median income of just $54,984.

Legal praised the Lofts in Kapolei, a new development that includes affordable rental apartments.

"When they first came to our neighborhood board, we were so happy that something like this was coming to our neighborhood because we know of the need for this type of development like this," he said.

Solomon Wong and his girlfriend pay about $1,500 a month for an apartment there.

"About a year ago, when they first opened, it was first come, first served," said Wong. "So we were one of the first ones in line. Yes, we lucked out."

The state has set a goal of developing at least 22,500 affordable rental units over the next decade.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced several incentives in an attempt to spur affordable housing development, but supply still lags and rents continue to rise.

Some 43 percent of Hawaii households rent and, the report concluded, a household would need to bring in $73,217 a year to afford a two-bedroom apartment in the islands.

Hawaii's hourly "housing wage" of $35.20 an hour compares to $33.58 in Washington, D.C., $30.92 an hour in California and $28.27 in Maryland.

The state with the lowest "housing wage" was Arkansas, at $13.72.

In the islands, Oahu had the highest "housing wage" that renters needed, at $38.12. Some 46 percent of Oahu households rent.

It was $30.15 in Maui County, $28.13 on Kauai, and $24.44 on the Big Island.

Leiana Devera, who rents an apartment in Ewa Beach, boiled the rental market on Oahu to this: "It's ridiculous."

"Just to worry about paying your rent so you have a roof over your head, it's ridiculous," she said. "It's ridiculous. It really is."

Find the rent price statistics for your zip code by clicking here.

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