Honolulu Councilman Ron Menor wants to encourage homeowners to build accessory dwelling units, currently known as ohana units, to increase the supply of low-cost housing in Hawaii.

The council member from central Oahu has introduced a resolution amending the city’s land use ordinance to allow homeowners to build a second housing unit on their properties that they can rent to anyone. Right now, the city limits occupancy of such units to family members (hence the name “ohana units”).

Kakaako Affordable Housing

Halekauwila Place is the only new development in fast-growing Kakaako considered “affordable” for low-income residents. Hawaii’s demand for affordable housing far outstrips the supply.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Menor said in a press release that he understands “thorough discussions are needed” to ensure that the resolution won’t negatively impact existing neighborhoods.

The Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice advocated for accessory dwelling units in its recent report on Hawaii’s affordable housing crisis, which found that rents in Hawaii grew 45 percent between 2005 and 2012.

“This ordinance will not solve Oahu’s affordable housing crisis but will put a significant dent in it, while creating greater income opportunities for low-income landowners,” said Victor Geminiani from the Hawaii Appleseed Center in a press release. “It’s a small, simple change that could make a big difference for a lot of families who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads.”

A 2011 state report found that Hawaii needed 19,000 low-income housing units by 2016 to meet demand.

Read the full resolution below:

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