Barriers to Affordable Housing

Our initial work on affordable housing has determined that the most significant barriers to creating truly affordable rentals in Hawaii include:

  • Zoning requirements and building ordinances and codes: Hawaii is considered one of the most heavily regulated states in the country, adding significantly to the cost of development.
  • Land acquisition and utilization: In Hawaii, land comes at a premium and is often under-utilized.
  • Infrastructure: Lack of sewage capacity in many residential zones and high infrastructure costs in rental units both inhibit the creation of affordable housing, requiring both investment and methods to contain costs.
  • Community opposition: Affordable housing development is often faced with community opposition, also known as NIMBYism (“Not in My Backyard”), but can be combated by proper planning, aesthetically attractive housing design, strong premise management, education, and involving the community before and during the planning process.
  • Lack of political will: Hawaii has demonstrated a lack of strong political will on building affordable housing. Missing has been a credible, respected and visible coalitions of affordable housing advocates supporting political and public discussions about the need to build truly affordable rentals at diverse locations throughout the islands.