December, 1980 Home   Newsletters

January, 1981

February, 1981

President's Message (Barbara Farwell)
Lunch with Archibald Cox
General Meeting
Fair Housing Bill Dead
Program Committee to Meet
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You...
What Makes the City Run? DHCD (Astrid Monson)
Housing Coalition
Consumer and Housing (Vi Gren)
Potpourri of Women's Issues
From National
January Units
League Looks at Kakaako

What Makes the City Run?


Inflated housing prices and unprecedentedly high interest rates have priced the majority of island families out of the private housing market. Estimates indicate that some 80,000 low to moderate cost housing units are needed to meet Oahu's present and anticipated needs to the year 2000 -- an average of 4,000 a year. Four hundred or fewer such units are currently being built annually.

Various Federal, State and City programs are available to help meet the need, and the City's Department of Housing and Community Development is the implementing agency at the city level.

The DHCD, established in 1975 as a line agency, replaced the Honolulu Redevelopment Agency which had been responsible for such projects as Queen Emma Gardens, Kukui Gardens, and Kukui Plaza. DHCD is empowered by Charter to "develop and administer projects, programs, and plans of action to stimulate or aid the supply of housing in the city, provided that such projects, programs, and plans of action conform to and implement the general plan and development plans." It is also authorized to act as the local agency to implement federally-aided housing, urban renewal and community development projects.

The city has developed 22 projects since 1968 with a total of 4,310 dwelling units. Of these 3,162 units (2,481 low-mod) are downtown, with the remaining 1,148 (all low-mod) scattered in many parts of the island. Three more projects with 408 low-mod units are to be completed by the end of 1981 in Kahuku, Haleiwa, and Chinatown, and two more with 253 units are in planning -- one at Smith-Beretania and the other, rehabilitation of a city-owned apartment building in Chinatown.

DHCD's activities have included:

  1. Redevelopment of blighted or mis-used older areas to new uses. This involves rehabilitation of viable or historically significant buildings as well as clearing and redevelopment of other sites. The city is increasingly relying on public/private sector cooperation to achieve redevelopment objectives.

  2. Development of new housing for low or moderate income families or for mixed-income use by utilizing city-owned lands and various federal aid programs.

  3. Neighborhood rehabilitation programs, generally applied to stable neighborhoods where no redevelopment is planned, entail upgrading public facilities and providing low-interest loans for the rehabilitation of existing houses and apartments in a neighborhood.

  4. Recommending City policy to increase the housing supply, as in the case of the pending "inclusionary zoning" bill, which would require developers of projects with 10 or more units for sale to make 10% of them affordable to low or moderate income families or make equivalent contributions in land or money to the City for such housing construction.

  5. Coordinating and planning housing projects that are funded by Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). These funds are being increasingly used for housing.

  6. Administering new programs dealing with housing as they develop.

  7. Planning economic development projects under federal programs, such as rehabilitation of the Oahu Market and an agricultural park devoted to nursery businesses.

DHCD uses the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definition of "low-moderate" income as no more than 80% of the median income in a community. Currently the median is about $23,300 for a family of four, with 80% amounting to $18,640. "Gap group" housing, such as that for which "Hula Mae" tax=exempt revenue bonds are used, is generally for families with 80% to 120% of the median income. Above that, unassisted market housing is supposed to be available.

DHCD is currently requesting proposals from consultants for a study to locate suitable and potentially available sites for assisted housing. The study will also seek ways to secure neighborhood participation and reactions to the use of such sites. The Dept is proposing a "fair share" policy for the location of new housing projects, under which no one neighborhood would feel that a disproportionate amount of such housing was going into its area.

Affordable housing is one of the most important issues facing Oahu and the State. DHCD and the State housing agencies have their work cut out for them!

Astrid Monson

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