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Maui Planning Committee to Hear Affordable Housing Initiatives

June 28, 2016, 4:54 PM HST · Updated June 28, 4:56 PM
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Imi Ikena apartments. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Imi Ikena apartments. File photo by Wendy Osher.

The council’s Planning Committee will hear affordable housing initiatives during an upcoming meeting this Thursday, June 30, 2016.

Committee chair Don Couch said the initiatives can potentially assist with enhancing affordable housing opportunities for working families on Maui.

The three items include:

PC-16, Bill 78 (2015) Relating to wet bars in dwelling units. This matter was reviewed by the County Council at previous meetings and was recommitted to the Planning Committee. The creation of a wet bar or even a second kitchen in a dwelling unit has the potential for creating housing for families that wish to provide needed shelter for their friends or relatives.

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PC-28, affectionately known as the Affordable Housing ʻOhana Bill, would allow the addition of an affordable housing accessory dwelling (ʻohana) on smaller parcels of land. Currently, a parcel of land must be 7,500 square feet to accommodate an ʻohana. The proposed bill will allow an affordable ʻohana on parcels that are 5,000 to 7,499 square feet; and

PC-37(2), The Department of Planning will discuss various ideas for increasing housing stock and affordable market housing. Planning notes that permitting a second kitchen or wet bar and providing of an affordable ʻohana on smaller lots are options for increasing housing availability; additionally they will discuss other methods such as: underdeveloped properties, enhanced zoning designations, improvements to the review and permitting process, just to name a few suggestions.

Recently, Scott Morishige, Homeless Coordinator for the Governor’s Office noted that “more affordable housing and focusing on existing housing should go hand and hand with health and human services”.

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“The recommendation from Mr. Morishige to focus on existing housing as a potential solution for affordable housing and addressing homelessness reinforces the need to discuss the items that are scheduled for the Planning Committee meeting, said Couch. It’s time to think out of the box to develop affordable housing ideas.”

The State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism recently noted that to supply the County of Maui with the housing it needs by 2025, 13,494 units are required to supports the 25% growth rate.

Additionally, the County of Maui Department of Housing and Human Concerns provided a status update on affordable housing projects approved for construction dating back to 1990. According to the DHHC matrix, there are over 3,200 affordable units that are approved but have not been built.

“The County of Maui cannot continue to rely on developers alone to provide affordable housing, said Couch. If we make adjustments and use our existing housing, call on our community, and reduce the burden on the entitlement process we can meet the housing needs of our working families.”

In a national survey by the MacArthur Foundation, it found that 81% of the respondents said that housing affordability is a major issue in the United States, according to information released by the Office of Council Services. The survey reportedly states that respondents believe the housing problem is solvable and they want policy makers to address it.

“We must not let this opportunity pass us,” said Couch. “The Council must seriously review these measures to put necessary changes in place to permit the growth in the affordable housing stock.”

“These few issue items are not the answer to our affordable housing crisis, but they are a step in the right direction and another tool in our box of resources,” said Couch. “If one family is provided housing as a result of these efforts, it will be a success.”

The Council’s Planning Committee meeting begins at 9 a.m. in the Council Chamber, 8th Floor of the Kalana O Maui Building, located at 200 South High Street in Wailuku.

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