Mayor Rick Blangiardi is inviting developers of affordable housing to apply for thousands of dollars in grants that are now available thanks to legislation he signed last month.

With a $10 million investment, the administration hopes to encourage the building of up to 1,100 housing units on Oahu through May 2024.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi speaks to media during press conference held after his State of Honolulu speech.
The first bill Mayor Rick Blangiardi proposed to the Honolulu City Council related to affordable housing. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

Bill 1, the administration’s first legislative endeavor, offers grants depending on the housing units’ affordability level.

Units rented to households making between 60% and 100% of the area median income can garner up to $9,000 in incentives for the developer. Units rented to households earning below 60% of the area median income can garner up to $15,000 for the developer.

“To be candid, government historically has spent a lot of time and money trying to build affordable housing, and it hasn’t done a good job,” Blangiardi said in a statement.

“Bill 1 will allow us to incentivize the private sector to build the units at a fraction of the cost and time it would take the government to do the work. This will also help revitalize areas by transforming buildings that were left in disrepair and turning them into renovated places to live.”

The effort was supported by developers, realtors and the construction industry and was passed unanimously by the Honolulu City Council last month.

However, housing advocates say that more action is needed to fully address Honolulu’s housing crisis in which thousands are homeless and many more are living on the brink.

Kenna Stormogipson with the Hawaii Budget and Policy Center said in written testimony that Bill 1 is a step in the right direction but much more can be done.

“Now is the time to create a comprehensive and sustainable affordable housing strategy for local residents across the income spectrum (from houseless to middle class) who are spending too much of their monthly paychecks on housing and too little on other important costs of living,” she said.

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