Should Hawaii Spend $2 Billion To Build Homes Residents Can Afford?

By Anita Hofschneider for Civil Beat

Hawaii usually budgets tens of millions of dollars annually to subsidize affordable housing development, but Sen. Will Espero wants to increase that to $2 billion to tackle the state’s severe housing shortage.

As the new chair of the state Senate Housing Committee, Espero has introduced Senate Bill 591 to float general obligation bonds to fund $2 billion worth of subsidies to build both for-sale and rental affordable housing, along with public housing repairs and homeless shelters.

The state considers housing to be affordable if it’s targeted to individuals earning no more than $98,560 per year, or families of four earning up to $140,700 per year.

The latest housing study found Hawaii needs more than 24,500 units over the next five years, and more than 80 percent of the demand comes from people within that income bracket.

“What we’re appropriating now is not enough,” Espero said. “We’re not even making a dent in the housing crisis. We need to think big.”

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Source: (Published: 2017.2.7)