Panel reviews upcoming affordable housing projects, takes policy action

CHAIR'S 3 MINUTES

In October, the County Council’s Housing, Human Services and Transportation Committee, which I chair, received a status update from the county Department of Housing and Human Concerns on several affordable housing developments that have started construction and are projected to become available through the end of next year.

By the end of 2017, Maui County will have added a total of 83 affordable housing units to its inventory. But by the same time next year, an additional 425 workforce housing units are projected to hit Maui’s affordable housing market, which includes a mix of for-sale units and senior rentals, a difference of 342 more units in one year alone.

The need for affordable housing units is critical in all areas of Maui, but especially in West Maui. The Kahoma Residential Subdivision project has already completed 19 affordable units and plans on providing an additional 49 by the end of next year. Kahoma Village is anticipated to provide 102 affordable housing units by fall 2018, and in 2019, the Kaiaulu project is expected to add 33 more affordable units.

Caring for our kupuna is also important to our community, and there is a focus to ensure a mix of elderly housing projects on Maui exists. The Hale Mahaolu Ewalu project Upcountry is planning on rolling out 60 affordable senior rental units by next fall. An amendment to the county’s Residential Workforce Housing Policy, Chapter 2.96, Maui County Code, relating to rental credits, recently passed out of my committee and will help to support future affordable rental projects such as these.

Upcountry also benefitted from the recent completion of the Kulamalu project, which added 56 affordable rental units to Maui’s workforce housing inventory. The Mokuhau Project in Central Maui is anticipated to complete eight units by the end of 2017 and eight units in early 2018.

Other affordable housing projects anticipated to be completed next year include Kamalani in Kihei, which will add 173 units; and Pauwela Homes in Haiku, with 33 units.

Collaboratively, these projects represent an attempt to “chip away” and address Maui’s housing shortage. This is just the start to providing more affordable housing opportunities for Maui County’s residents. Our commitment is to continue to focus and develop strategies with collaborative stakeholders to address Maui’s affordable housing inventory.

A few of these strategies include ways to streamline the building permit application process, which currently hinders the time it takes to build on Maui.

My committee has also started discussion on the feasibility of revitalizing the county’s First-Time Homebuyers Program, which provided grants to assist first-time homebuyers with down payments and closing costs. The program ran from fiscal years 2010 through 2013 and issued maximum grant amounts of $15,000 for qualified applicants.

Also, this month the housing committee will be preparing a proposal to use $250,000, appropriated by the council in the fiscal 2018 budget, to develop an affordable housing policy and implementation plan for the county. Strategies in the proposal will aim to reduce barriers and implement and promote policy changes for affordable housing development.

The need for affordable housing continues, and so does our desire to address this critical need for our Maui County residents.

Mahalo.

* Stacy Crivello is chairwoman of the County Council’s Housing, Human Services and Transportation Committee. She holds the council’s Molokai residency seat. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.

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