Hawaii Rep. Kaniela Ing wants lawmakers to pass a bill that would set up a pilot project for rent control.

Honolulu is one of the most expensive cities for housing in the nation, but unlike New York City or San Francisco, there are no laws limiting how high landlords can set the rent.

Rent prices have been steadily rising and the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in urban Honolulu is now $1,982. Electricity costs are also among the highest in the nation. The high cost of living has forced many to live on the streets and now Hawaii has one of the worst homelessness rates.

House Bill 1267 requires each county to establish rent-control ordinances by 2018 that apply to new housing developed in five representative districts, as well as housing built before 1990 in those neighborhood. The state Housing Finance and Development Corporation would administer the bill, which would allow landlords to raise the rent through limited amounts each year.

State Rep. Kaniela Ing wants the state to start a rent control pilot project. Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

“Why aren’t we already having this conversation? Someone has to lead,” said Ing in a press release.

He said in an interview that his bill is based on best practices for rent control that he researched from states including New Jersey and California. He added that the bill is particularly important for young people who want to save up enough money to buy a home.

House Housing Committee Chairman Tom Brower is calling a hearing for the bill Thursday at 9 a.m. He said he hasn’t yet formed an opinion on the bill and says his intention is to hear as many proposals as possible.

“It’s worthwhile to talk about,” he said of the proposal. “We’re just going to have to see what some of the departments will have to say (about it).”

If the bill passes Brower’s committee, it will go next to the Finance Committee chaired by Rep. Sylvia Luke.

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