Working For You Headline

OFFICE OF HOUSING (HOU)

January 2021 – December 2023
  1. Prioritizing the Development of Affordable Housing
    In 1998, Honolulu disbanded its housing department. When Mayor Blangiardi assumed office in January 2021, he prioritized the development of affordable housing and formed the Affordable Housing Working Group to bring together the agencies necessary to develop housing and, ultimately, reconstitute the City’s Office of Housing. In early 2023, Denise Iseri-Matsubara, Executive Director of the Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC), was recruited to lead the Office of Housing and in mid-2023, Kevin Auger, redevelopment officer at the Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority (HPHA), brought his development expertise to the City’s Office of Housing. Under their leadership, the Office of Housing will meet the Mayor’s high goals for affordable housing and transit-oriented communities in TOD zones. We expect nothing but the best from Denise, Kevin and Honolulu’s Office of Housing team as we establish the City’s critical role in affordable housing.
  2. Setting Goals and Driving Execution
    The Office of Housing delivered Honolulu’s Housing Plan in 2023, setting a production goal of 18,000 new City and County affordable rental units on O‘ahu by 2028-2029. Included in the plan are strategies to accelerate the construction of new affordable housing on O‘ahu, including strategic acquisitions and developments in TOD zones and Council districts across O‘ahu. The plan also prioritizes improvements to the City’s housing finance programs, accelerated permit reviews and approvals, capitalizing on partnerships, and reforms to regulations to reduce the burden on new projects.
  3. Using City Lands to Reduce the Cost of Affordable Housing
    The high cost of land on O‘ahu drives the high cost of housing. To keep housing affordable, the City provides City lands at no to low cost to developers. Several affordable housing projects on City lands recently broke ground:

     

    1. KAPOLEI PARKWAY by the Kobayashi Group in partnership with Āhē Group and Design Partners Inc. – the largest affordable rental project to date with 405 units being built on 10 acres of city land with two childcare centers. Construction began in August 2023 and the first phase of homes will be move-in ready by late 2024.
    2. ALOHA IĀ HALEWILIKŌ by EAH Housing located on the site of the old ʻAiea sugar mill broke ground in October 2023 on 3.45 acres of City land that will become home for 140 seniors in late 2025.
  4. Eliminating Unnecessary Regulations
    Unnecessary regulations increase the cost of housing. In 2022, a UHERO report found that Hawai‘i’s regulatory burdens are far higher than any other state in the nation. This over-regulatory environment raises the cost of housing and suppresses production. We are listening to the development community and responding by taking action to simplify the rules that govern affordable housing requirements. Our commitment is to reduce and eliminate regulations that frustrate the construction of affordable housing.
  5. City-State Collaboration
    The City and State are collaborating at the highest levels to address two of the most pressing problems – housing and homelessness. The concept is the City provides the buildings and the State, with a Department of Health, assists with the programming and operating dollars for wrap-around mental health services to the community. Two recent examples:

     

    1. Waikīkī Vista: In 2022, the City acquired its largest affordable housing project ever with 108 units. Destined as permanent supportive housing for those in need, the facility will include a family assessment center operated by a non-profit thanks to funding from the State.
    2. Iwilei Resource Center: Purchased in 2018, this building was renovated and in 2023, the City’s CORE team set up a temporary medical respite center for high-needs individuals experiencing homelessness. For the long term, the facility is being turned over to the Department of Health for Hawai‘i’s first mental health stabilization center with permanent supportive housing for those most in need.
  6. City Private Activity Bond (PAB) Program
    After a 23-year hiatus, the Blangiardi administration successfully launched a City PAB program to provide low-cost financing to affordable housing projects. In early 2023, the City issued $135,000,000 in bonds for the rehabilitation of 522 units at Maunakea Tower in Chinatown and Jack Hall Apartments in Waipahu. In late 2023, the city signed an agreement with the State HHFDC to direct its 2022 allocation and part of its 2023 allocation of PABs to finance two projects: Kaleimaʻo Village on City land in West Loch ($30,000,000 for 127 units) and phase one of the Kūhiō Park Low Rise and Homes Redevelopment in Kalihi ($93,000,000 for 304 units). With an annual allocation of ~$125,000,000, PABs will help jumpstart affordable housing projects on O‘ahu.
  7. Bill 1 (2021)
    Bill 1 (2021) was the first piece of legislation offered and signed into law by Mayor Blangiardi to provide $10,000,000 in grant incentives to build low to moderate-density affordable rental housing under Bill 7 (2019). Bill 1, which became Ordinance 21-12, complements Bill 7 (2019) which created a temporary program designed to accelerate construction of affordable rental units through relaxed zoning and building code standards. In 2023, the Mayor collaborated with the Governor to secure an additional $5,000,000 in matching grant funds.
  8. UHERO Developed Affordable Housing Database
    The City engaged the University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization (UHERO) to develop and maintain a database of O‘ahu’s affordable housing projects/units so that City policymakers, administrators, and the broader community will have the data to maintain affordability and prevent the unintended conversion to market-priced units.