City pushes for new requirements to increase affordable housing

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says he wants to change the requirements for affordable housing on Oahu.

A proposal, outlined Thursday, would make more new units available for rent and sale and lower income caps for eligible families.

It would require new buildings to provide 30 percent of its units to those who earn 120 percent or less of the area median income, or AMI, for sale, and 15 percent of its units to those who earn 80 percent or less AMI, for rent.

“So that’s $76,(650) for a family of four and below. This is true, true workforce housing. This is true affordable housing,” Caldwell said. “This is where the greatest demand is and the greatest need is that’s not being addressed.”

The current requirements call for a minimum of 30 percent of units to be affordable to those earning up to 140 percent AMI.

The hope is that the changes would add more than 4,000 units to the affordable housing inventory over five years.

“At the end of the day, what we’re talking about is affordability,” Caldwell said. “The homeless issue is one sliver of the overall issue of affordability of homes on this island and in this state.”

The plan would also extend the minimum required period of affordability from 10 years to 30 to 60 years, instead of reverting back to a marketplace unit.

The city says if the state continues to fund projects at a rate similar to projects currently in the pipeline and capitalizes on transit-oriented development opportunities on state lands, the five-year total increase could be more than 8,000 units.

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