The cost of housing in Hawai’i is incredibly high. Several indices put it as the most expensive housing market in America. A large proportion of Hawai’i’s residents are cost-burdened, meaning that they spend at least 30 percent of their income on housing. While developers continue to build high-end, luxury housing and hotel properties, the housing needs of low-income and middle-class families and Hawai’i residents are neglected.

The housing crisis has tangentially led to a homeless crisis, particularly on O’ahu. Hawai’i Appleseed currently works through legislative and court advocacy and policy research to ensure that affordable housing needs are met throughout the state and that both the government and private developers pay attention to residents’ right to live in a safe, clean environment that they can afford. Hawai‘i Appleseed also seeks to be a resource for community groups, administrative agencies, governmental entities, and other non-profit organizations that want to understand how housing laws and policies can be used to improve the state of public housing projects and affordable housing in general in Hawai‘i.


We are currently working with Aloha United Way and the State of Hawai’i homeless programs office to produce a report on entryways to homelessness in the state of Hawai’i. The report looks at three different ways that people may become homeless – discharge from hospitals, prisons, and foster care — and determining the potential risk factors for each sub-population.

We consistently and ardently advocate at both the local and state levels to promote affordable housing and ensure that state and local governments follow their legal commitments to provide affordable housing and adequate public housing. Examples include: suing the government to ensure habitable living conditions in the Mayor Wright housing project in Oahu, pressuring the Honolulu City Council to refuse to allow new luxury developments built in Kaka’ako without a promise for more affordable housing, such as a 104 micro-unit apartment building, which we helped advocate for and is the first of its kind in Hawai’i.

We also tackle the issue of providing adequate foster care. Hawai’i Appleseed recently won a settlement from the state’s Department of Human Services to increase the amount of money that foster care parents receive to take care of their foster children, an amount that hadn’t been updated in a quarter century. Hawai’i Appleseed continues to work to ensure that this expenditure will be met.and that all keiki in Hawai’i are afforded te right to quality food, housing, and care, regardless of their living situation.

Hawai’i Appleseed is also one of the leaders in Hawai’i on promoting and advocating for accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Thanks to our efforts, there is now an ordinance on O’ahu allowing the creation of ADUs and an accompanying network of resources to guide homeowners who wish to add them to their property. We also hold workshops so people can learn more about ADUs, and in the future, we plan to hold build-a-thons for people to come together and build ADUs, increasing the rental value of their property and adding more affordable housing to the state.




Hawai‘i’s Affordable Housing Crisis

Appleseed’s July 2014 report, “Hawai‘i’s Affordable Housing Crisis: The High Cost of Our Affordable Housing Shortfall,” details the severity of Hawai‘i’s housing shortage and the financial strain it places on our working families, compiling the facts and figures that illustrate the dire housing situation facing Hawai‘i.

Accessory Dwelling Units
Appleseed’s April 2014 policy brief explores the broader use of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in Hawai‘i as an option for creating more affordable housing. ADUs are separate units built on residential properties with single family homes. These small units can be detached or detached from the main structure and contain at minimum a sleeping area, bathroom, and kitchenette. High-cost localities around the country have used ADUs as a straightforward solution to help create additional housing that maintains the neighborhood’s character while benefiting property owners, who collect rental income.

Reimagining Housing in Hawai‘i
Hawai‘i Appleseed’s November 2013 report Reimagining Housing in Hawai‘i details successful affordable housing models like microunits, ohana housing, and modular housing. These models have been successful in places as diverse as the Bronx, Seattle, Santa Cruz, Alabama, and Amsterdam.


Honolulu High-Rise: 36 Stories And No Affordable Housing September 7 2016
Honolulu City Council Delays Decision on Luxury High-Rise September 7 2016
Advocates: Ala Moana luxury highrise should include affordable units September 7 2016
Churches and nonprofits help ex-prisoners stay off the streets August 30 2016
Aloha and Welcome to Paradise. Unless You’re Homeless. June 3 2016