COUNCIL’S 3 MINUTES
By: Tasha Kama
Published in the Maui News October 11, 2019
The Maui County Council is committed to addressing our crisis in attainable housing.
When we met with voters last year during the campaign, attainable housing was a top priority for our community. The challenge in addressing our attainable housing needs is the “how.”
Sometimes we fail to accept the “how” when it is presented to us. The council did not accept the two Launiupoko housing developments, Polanui Gardens and Makila Rural-East, that were presented through the state 201H process.
Those projects would have created a total of 100 affordable homes and 61 market-rate agricultural lots. The proposed level of development in that location was not acceptable to most of the council.
Earlier this month, the council did find the 19 affordable homes and 15 market-rate agricultural lots offered by the Makila Farms project in the same location acceptable and granted approval to that 201H project.
The council is waiting for its final action, “second reading,” on a budget amendment bill that would provide $6.4 million in county affordable housing funds to Kaiaulu O Kupuohi Apartments Project. This project will result in 88 new rental apartments that will be available to households earning $50,280 or less a year — 60 percent of the area median income or AMI.
The county’s affordable housing fund allocation would leverage over $50 million in state and federal tax credits and loans to get those rentals constructed.
As the council’s Affordable Housing Committee chairwoman, I am not waiting for the development community to bring forth all the attainable housing that our community needs. To address those needs, participation by the nonprofit sector, developers, the community and the county is necessary.
I am working with Council Member Riki Hokama to determine where Maui County can make land with sewer and water services available and engage builders to construct affordable housing from preapproved plans. The hope is to provide houses for those who could purchase their own home if the cost of those homes were more affordable.
We know the county does not have the capacity to build all the housing that our community needs. But we can provide some of that needed housing.
In cooperation with the mayor’s office, the Maui Chamber of Commerce is coordinating the 2019 Maui Nui Attainable Housing Forum on Oct. 15 and 16.
The program for late afternoon on the 15th focuses on preparing residents to attain the housing they are seeking. The 16th is a full day of discussion and workshops aimed at increasing the number of attainable homes that get approved for construction.
The goal of this forum, especially for the second day, is to find the “how” that is acceptable to our community, so that getting the attainable housing we need stops being that impossible dream.
It took many years to get to this level of attainable housing shortage, but the council does not want to take many more years to address it. Please join with us in finding solutions that are acceptable and attainable.
* Tasha Kama is the council’s presiding officer pro tempore and chair of the council’s Affordable Housing Committee. She holds the council seat for the Kahului residency area. “Council’s 3 Minutes” is a column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.