Reimagining Housing in Hawaii
In November 2013, Hawaii Appleseed released a report entitled Reimagining Housing in Hawaii, detailing successful affordable housing models like microunits, ohana housing, modular housing, among others. These models have been successful in places as diverse as the Bronx, Seattle, Santa Cruz, Alabama, and Amsterdam.
Hawai‘i’s severe shortage of affordable housing is a constant topic of concern as our city and state seek answers on how to ensure that all of our residents have a decent, stable home that they can actually afford.
The statistics on the cost of housing in Hawai‘i are staggering. We consistently come out at the top for rental and for-sale housing prices—cost of living indicators show that our shelter costs are more than twice the national average. Almost 75 percent of extremely low-income people are paying more than half of their income on housing. Hawai‘i needs almost 20,000 new affordable units by 2016 to meet demand.
When households spend too much on shelter, they have less to spend on food, health care, and other necessities. These households are often precariously close to losing their homes and, in the worst cases, end up homeless. Affordable housing is critical for a thriving community and is the only solution to our homelessness crisis.
This report, “Reimagining Housing in Hawai‘i,” aims to address this problem by helping our community visualize new affordable housing options. We must reconsider what housing must look like and explore innovative models that can reduce costs and meet the needs of our community. Some of the models featured in the report include:
- Microunits—very small efficiency apartments—that can be adapted to suit a wide variety of populations, including single workers, people transitioning out of homelessness, kupuna, and others
- Accessory dwelling units that homeowners can build to create affordable rentals
- Adaptive reuse of existing buildings and conversion into housing stock
- Small, ultra-affordable houses that require minimal materials and land
These housing options have been successfully adopted around the country and internationally. The myriad examples depicted in this paper show the potential such creative designs have for our city and state.
Hawai‘i Appleseed will continue its advocacy for affordable housing with our forthcoming reports, which will provide a fuller depiction of the affordable housing crisis and propose solutions to barriers stymieing its creation. We hope that this report will serve as the beginning of a new vision for affordable housing in Hawai‘i.