Duke Aiona, the Republican nominee for Hawaii governor, unveiled a five-point housing plan aimed at keeping affordable housing units below market rates and creating more rent-to-own projects across the state during a press conference Friday at the Hawaii Republican Party headquarters.

Aiona said his housing programs would focus on homeownership if he is elected governor, rather than developing more housing. He and his running mate, Junior Tupa‘i, will face Lt. Gov. Josh Green and Sylvia Luke in the November general election.

Aiona’s housing ideas include freezing the sales price of affordable units, creating a new cabinet-level housing officer to help coordinate home building, creating a path for those in affordable rentals to own their units, putting some state funds toward supporting a housing “hui” and revamping land leases for Hawaiian homelands beneficiaries.

Republican Gubernatorial candidate Duke Aiona speaks during a press conference sharing their plans for housing solutions.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Duke Aiona is making housing a key component of his run for the governor’s office. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

While Aiona detailed his ticket’s housing ideas from a lectern in front of news cameras, Tupa‘i sat in a crowd of several dozen GOP supporters and party officials.

Aiona called housing “the most important issue we are facing today, and will face in the future if we don’t have a solution.”

Green and Luke also identified housing as a top issue in their respective races during the primary election. Green said he would issue an executive order to speed housing development while Luke would look into directing more funding toward affordable housing development and clamping down on the sale of affordable units.

To keep affordable units available to those in lower income ranges, Aiona suggested requiring homebuyers to sign deeds that restricted the sale of their units at market rates. It’s similar to an idea that Luke proposed to restrict sales of affordable units for a fixed number of years.

“It’s going to take some sacrifice on the part of people buying those affordable homes,” Aiona said, acknowledging that the buyers would not be able to reap large profits off the sale of their homes in the future if they agree to such restrictions.

There’s also been a lot of discussion this election season over the role government regulations play in slowing the development of housing. Aiona said he wants to find ways to cut through more of that government red tape through exemptions granted through the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. and county councils.

The process, known as 201H, allows developers to skip over some permitting and zoning requirements if the development will produce affordable housing units. Aiona said he’d like to revamp that law to cut through more regulations, but he didn’t offer specifics Friday.

Aiona said he and Tupa‘i plan to host town hall meetings across the state to detail their housing plans to the public. This is Aiona’s third time running for governor. He lost in 2010 and 2014.

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