Koolau Loa residents have listed housing as the top crisis facing their families.

They say they’ve been forced to rent out their garages to help pay their mortgages and are cramming multiple generations under the same roof.

New numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau say they’re right.

Town-by-town data released Tuesday as part of the American Community Survey reveal that Laie has Hawaii’s highest household size — the average home there has 5.37 occupants. That’s more than double the national average of 2.6.

And it’s up from 4.47 in 2000 to 5.37 over the five years covered by the survey. In 2000, Laie ranked No. 2, behind Nanakuli, at 4.65. Nanakuli dropped to fifth in the latest report.

The neighboring communities of Kahuku and Hauula rank ninth and 10th, respectively.

Average Household Size

Rank Geographic area Average
1 Laie 5.37
2 Waikane 5.01
3 Ewa Beach 4.49
4 Whitmore Village 4.47
5 Nanakuli 4.31
6 Waipahu 4.27
7 Waianae 4.19
8 Ewa Villages 4.13
9 Kahuku 4.03
10 Hauula 3.85
129 Puako 1.99
130 Kahaluu-Keauhou 1.92
131 Maalaea 1.67
Hawaii 2.84
United States 2.60

Source: Civil Beat analysis of American Community Survey data

At a meeting last week, many Laie residents testified that they need more housing. Creating new housing opportunities for area residents has been cited by proponents of the controversial Sustainable Communities Plan that would allow development of 875 work force housing units in the largely pristine Malaekahana Valley just north of Laie.

The plan is part of a push by the Laie Mormon Temple and Brigham Young University-Hawaii, which wants to expand to 5,000 students.

Opponents say they want to “keep the country country” and that the housing might not be affordable to current Koolau Loa residents. A public hearing was held at Kahuku High and Intermediate School last week, and testimony is being accepted through mid-January. The matter will likely move to the Planning Commission in early 2011.

Civil Beat will be exploring other data from the American Community Survey in the days to come.

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