Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s draft affordable housing strategy suggests changing the reserved housing rules in the state redevelopment district of Kakaako to match proposed city-wide requirements.

“For this Strategy to be fully effective, the HCDA rules should be aligned with the City’s proposed new requirements,” the mayor’s policy proposal states.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority — the state agency in charge of managing Kakaako — has its own set of standards regulating what kind of housing should be built and how much is set aside for specific income groups. But many residents have criticized the agency for promoting high-end condos and not doing enough to make homes more affordable.

The agency is already considering changing its rules to require developers to build cheaper homes and more rental units, in response to an internal report. But the city’s director of transit-oriented development Harrison Rue said that the affordable housing rules in Kakaako should generally match the city’s proposal to make the new housing strategy most effective.

“This includes a much longer period of affordability, lower income (% of AMI) requirements, and more focus on affordable rental housing,” Rue said in a statement. “Mayor Caldwell and his team have met with HCDA staff to encourage this approach in the upcoming revisions to the HCDA rules, as well as to ask for their input into refining the city’s strategy.”

Whether and how this alignment would happen remains a question. The mayor’s proposed housing strategy is still in draft form. Even if it is adopted, it could take another year to alter HCDA’s rules because of the time-consuming rule-making process.

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