With the ever-changing landscape of the Honolulu apartment scene, you would think that it would be easy to find an apartment somewhere in your price range. Unfortunately, new housing developments that offer affordable apartments are harder and harder to find in Honolulu as well as all over the islands. One such apartment complex is being built at the corner of Ward Avenue and Halekauwila Street, where they hoped to offer 125 units at reasonable prices for renters. Now the Hawaii Community Development Authority is thinking of extending their rule of requiring the rentable units to stay affordable for 15 years to 30 years. The Howard Hughes Corporation, who is behind this new development, has said that if they are required to keep these units “affordable” for 30 years they may not be able to include these apartments made for those with lower-income.
Another major problem is there isn’t enough housing, affordable or otherwise, to keep up with the changing demographic of renters on the islands. The Hawaii Housing Planning Study and Eugene Tian, the state’s top research and statistics officer, have both said the state needs to add more units than is currently being produced. Eric Pape of The Honolulu Civil Beat says, “If the rate of construction permitting holds for the rest of 2014, it would mean Oahu authorizes the fewest new housing units of any year since 1944, according to [Paul] Brewbaker. ‘The World War was their excuse,’ he said, ‘What’s ours?’” At this point in time, there are some out of date construction rules, a weariness from residents that more housing is the answer, and lots of obstacles with making profitable while still affordable apartments.
In 2014, Pacific Business News named Hawaii as the most expensive state for renters of two bedroom apartments. They said that a renter in the islands would need to make, “at least $31.54 an hour to adequately afford a two-bedroom apartment with a fair market rent of $1,640, and would need a median income of $65,600, according to a study released Monday from the National Low Income Housing Coalition…A minimum-wage worker would have to work 174 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom, the coalition says.” The report finishes to say that no minimum wage worker could afford a two-bedroom apartment on their own but the fact remains that Hawaii is too expensive for renters.