Honolulu City Council approves housing tower in Chinatown

HONOLULU (AP) — The Honolulu City Council has endorsed an affordable rental housing tower for older adults on city land in Chinatown.

Council members voted Wednesday to provide regulatory approval for the 156-unit Halewaiolu Senior Residences project for older residents with low incomes, Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

The Michaels Organization anticipated starting construction by June and delivering the project with monthly rent as low as $578 in 2023.

Project supporters include Democratic Gov. David Ige, affordable-housing advocates, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi and some older residents.

Ige said in a Jan. 12 letter that Halewaiolu will help address an affordable-housing crisis that has existed in Hawaii for decades.

The project will also help meet a state goal of adding 22,500 affordable homes by 2028, Ige said.

Some Chinatown residents said the project is badly needed.

“Honolulu has a critical need for affordable rentals for seniors who make up a vital but vulnerable segment of our population,” Warren Hamamoto told the council Wednesday.

Project opponents consist primarily of leaders of a group of Chinese cultural organizations.

They expressed fears the 17-story tower will redirect what they characterize as harmful emissions from a neighboring mortuary’s crematorium to the headquarters of Lum Sai Ho Tong Hawaii.

The cultural society has maintained the three-story Tin Hau Temple next to the Halewaiolu site for 132 years.