Why Affordable Housing Is Needed At Aloha Stadium Site - Honolulu Civil Beat


About the Author

John Kawamoto

John Kawamoto is a member of Faith Action for Community Equity and a former legislative analyst.


Sports fans and Hawaii residents who are in need of affordable housing should be happy that Senate Bill 2574 designates enough space for a new stadium on the Aloha Stadium site and also space for lots of affordable housing.

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SB 2574 reserves 25 acres needed for a new stadium.

The bill also allocates the remaining 73 acres of the 98-acre Aloha Stadium site to a mixed-use development that includes 75,000 affordable apartments.

These apartments would be truly affordable for working families. For example, the maximum rent for a two-bedroom apartment would be $1,500 a month. Furthermore, all of the apartments would be affordable in perpetuity.

The combination of a stadium and housing would be synergistic. Many people living on the site would want to attend events at the stadium.

The hundreds of thousands of people living on the site within easy walking distance of the stadium would also represent an enormous customer base for the events that are held at that facility.

SB 2574 would take a big step toward solving Hawaii’s affordable housing crisis. The magnitude of the crisis was underscored by an Aloha United Way study that estimated that 42% of Hawaii’s households did not have enough income to cover all of the necessities of daily living.

That study was done before Covid, so the percentage has most likely gone up substantially. Without sufficient income, these families are being forced to cut back on food, medicine, child care, or other necessities.

Quality Of Life

Housing is typically the largest item — by far — in a family’s budget. Access to affordable housing would make more money available for people to spend on whatever they need and want. Affordable housing improves the quality of life.

All of us know that housing in Hawaii is not cheap — which is also ironically true of developing affordable housing. But since the Aloha Stadium site is owned by the state, the land cost would be zero, and land cost is usually a large component of total development costs.

New Aloha Stadium rendering, NASED, Entertainment District, Halawa
The new Aloha Stadium site, as seen in this rendering, could include affordable rental housing. Courtesy: Crawford Architects

It is also fortunate that a trend has started in Hawaii toward smaller apartments. A few small apartments have been built in Kakaako in the shadows of all of those tall buildings with large luxury units. These small apartments sold out quickly, indicating a substantial demand for them.

Small apartments that are designed to save space are already commonplace in Asian cities. A small kitchen is often located on one side of a small living room. Bathrooms are compact, but functional.

These apartments would be truly affordable for working families.

Although these apartments are small, they are livable. Small apartments like these would reduce costs further at the Aloha Stadium site.

Increased density would also reduce the costs of construction. Many other cost-saving ideas have been employed by cities and countries throughout the world that have built large affordable housing developments over decades. There’s no reason it can’t happen in Honolulu.

We can have it both ways on the Aloha Stadium site: sporting events and lots of truly affordable housing. SB 2574 sets forth the vision. We can make it happen — if only we believe!

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About the Author

John Kawamoto

John Kawamoto is a member of Faith Action for Community Equity and a former legislative analyst.


Latest Comments (0)

"Affordable" is a relative term. Affordable for whom?

trekadmiral · 5 months ago

Questions more than comments...If The State can only afford to pay a fraction of a University Football Head Coach's salary, they should investigate the need and use of a new stadium? What is attendance going to be realistically based off of prior declining figures? What are the chances of getting the Pro Bowl back and other functions? Can it host events with limited parking? Also given ticket prices can someone living in affordable housing afford season tickets? If the convention center costs $24M in operating costs what will entertainment complex cost annually?Entertainment district fail!

surferx808 · 5 months ago

I say build the apartments in the vast open field where the rail line begins in Kapolei since that is the likely population that would benefit from riding the rail to their destination. Parceling out that land to housing developers would only create new subdivisions of unaffordable housing like all other housing subdivisions created by wealthy developers.

Annoyed · 5 months ago

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