Pursue ALOHA housing strategy

According to a state report, the estimated demand for total new housing in Hawaiʻi is upwards of 65,000 for the 10-year period ending in 2025. The chances of meeting that demand with sluggish status quo tactics are bleak, given that new housing units are being built at a pace of roughly a few thousand a year.

Chang’s initial attempt to establish a state leasehold condo program—floated in 2019—prompted lawmakers to call for a feasibility study, which was published this month. Conducted by the Hawaiʻi Appleseed Center for Law & Economic Justice, the report has mixed findings.

“While the ALOHA Homes model needs work, the concept of affordable leasehold housing has great potential to fulfill an important housing need for local residents,” the report said.

The study rightly pointed out that some key elements of the Singapore model, such as relatively low construction costs and the heavy hand of a highly centralized government, will not be replicated here. However, a variation on the model—with state interagency buy-in and robust processes to engage citizens in planning to address social and political issues, and cost constraints—is well worthy of pursuit.

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