Hawaii could lose more affordable units than it is possible to replace

Affordable housing is divided into two groups according to ownership for sale or rent.

Opinion article badge

Excluding units for sale, the affordable housing rental stock includes units owned by the Public Housing Authority, units developed with funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, low-income housing tax credit properties proceeds from the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation, USDA properties. and county-administered inclusionary zoning properties, including state 201H developments.

Over the past 20 to 30 years, we’ve lost over 3,000 of these units when accessibility restrictions have expired. Currently, only about 17,000 of these units remain. Over the next 15 years, approximately 4,500 units will lose their restrictions and another 10,000 units over the next 30 years.

These losses are significant and affect our communities in many ways.

Privately owned apartments that also serve this population are excluded from the above numbers. These apartments were developed years ago, have smaller units and affordable rents. In other communities, these units are known as Natural Affordable Housing (NOAH).

Recently, many NOAH units, especially in desirable locations, have been converted to condominiums. It is estimated that more than 15,000 units have been converted to condominiums in Hawaii.

View of Alewa Heights above Honolulu, Hawaii.
Many cities and states have active affordable housing preservation programs to save inventory, but this is not the case in Hawaii. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

One of the factors contributing to the loss of these units is the shorthand restrictions that were used to develop these properties. As these restrictions expire, many landlords seek higher rents or sell the developments outright. Affordable housing should have long-term deed restrictions and there is no financial reason not to restrict them in perpetuity.

Many cities and states have active affordable housing preservation programs to save inventory, but Hawaii and counties do not. This program is urgently needed if officials really want to discuss the loss of these units.

The only time the public becomes aware of impending loss is through media coverage of particular properties. Recent examples include the Front Street property in Maui and Kukui Gardens in Honolulu.

And only when the media draws attention to the problem does the state and legislature try to solve the problem with additional money. It would be more practical to analyze the current inventory of properties, develop a program to preserve as many units as possible, and proactively budget for the cost.

No one in the state has an accurate list of unit expiration dates and loss projections.

Many times, when deed restrictions expire, the state is forced to come up with additional money and use scarce federal tax credit funds to save the properties. This eliminates building more new units.

No one in the state has an accurate list of unit expiration dates and loss projections. This should be a priority for HHFDC and the information should be made public.

Having developed and owned an affordable home, I don’t need to be paid twice and thrice on the same property every time deed restrictions expire, and my grandchildren don’t need to inherit windfalls.

Source

Leave a Comment