Honolulu’s current affordable housing rules only produced 68 units in fiscal year 2014.

That’s despite a housing shortage that helped drive up the median cost of a home to $719,000 last month.

By “affordable housing,” the City & County of Honolulu is referring to units that are affordable for people earning 140 percent of area median income or below. That’s equal to $80,948 for an individual or $115,640 for a family of four.

In total, the city estimates that just over 2,000 such units were constructed during the fiscal years from 2011 to 2014. In addition to tallying the number of units built by developers who received zone change approval, the city added self-reported figures from developers, so the final count may be incomplete.

The city needs 17,360 housing units by 2016 to meet demand from residents earning 140 percent of AMI or below, according to a 2011 state housing study.

Developers built more than 800 affordable units in fiscal year 2014, including more than 200 homes in Kakaako by Stanford Carr as well as two projects in Waimanalo and Kapolei by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

But Honolulu’s current affordable housing requirement, which applies to developers seeking zone changes, produced less than 10 percent of those homes through three projects in Kapolei by D.R. Horton and Castle and Cooke.

Is that a sign that the rules aren’t being applied broadly enough? Mayor Kirk Caldwell seems to think so.

His proposed housing strategy would require every developer of 10 or more units to set aside a certain percentage of units for low- or moderate-income residents, or pay an undetermined fee.

But opponents of inclusionary zoning say that requiring developers to build a certain percentage of affordable homes is ineffective and discourages developers from building at all. A study by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization in 2010 concluded that Oahu’s policy was reducing the number of affordable units.

Regardless of the solution, the data is the latest indication that not enough housing is being built for ordinary people in Hawaii.

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