Sunday, January 22, 2017


Let’s shift the dialogue to “family housing” to plan for Hawaii’s affordable housing needs

Data also reflects the national trend towards increasing income inequality. Middle income families are decreasing while low income and high income populations increase.—
New York Times, San Francisco Asks: Where Have All the Children Gone?

San Francisco notoriously has the smallest percentage of kids — 13.4 percent — of any city in the nation. But while San Francisco officials sweat and bicker over affordable housing, they rarely talk about family housing.

“The vibrancy of the city really depends on families and children. What families offer is stability — they’re the ones who will stay, who will invest their time and energy to make sure that neighborhoods are safe and productive.”—
San Francisco Chronicle, SF housing shortage leaves little room for families

by Larry Geller

Advocates for solutions to Honolulu’s homelessness crisis sometimes get impatient with me for my limited enthusiasm for ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units), small houses, or the tiny units that the City may be planning for properties it has purchased.

Where will we get the 20,000, 27,000, 60,000 units or whatever the goal is (and it varies by time frame and organizations reporting)? Will they be tiny ADUs? Some could be, but we risk ending up where San Francisco is today: facing a declining population of children because families either have fled the state or are postponing having kids.

An ADU is not a great place to have kids and raise a family.

Meanwhile families who cannot afford skyrocketing rents and cannot stay with relatives leave town—even as condos multiply for the rich and ultra-rich. 

Wages in Hawaii are notoriously low and housing costs high, so what choice is there for a young family?

What we need is family housing that meets the needs of the lower-income sector of our population.

Let’s insist that planners and the City Council provide family housing in the income ranges and quantities necessary.

Newspaper editors need to change their tune: “affordable” defined as 120% of area median income is not the affordable housing needed. Units need to be available down to 30% of AMI. In fact, a wide range of rentals—guaranteed indefinitely—is needed to satisfy varied demand and allow families to remain here.

And we’re talking about adequate housing, not tiny units where kids have to be kept in closets converted into bedrooms (as described in the San Franciso Chronicle article).


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