Molina Leads New Affordable Housing Bill

April 14, 2020, 4:37 PM HST · Updated April 17, 11:01 AM
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Maui county councilmember Michael Molina.

Councilmember Michael J. Molina recently submitted a new proposed bill to require that 201H affordable housing projects submitted to the county must consist of a minimum of 75 percent of the total units for individuals and families within very low, low, low-moderate, and moderate-income households.

Hawaiʻi law states that “the corporation (Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation[HHFDC]) may develop or may enter into agreements to develop housing projects with an eligible developer if in the corporation’s reasonable judgement a project is primarily designed for lower income housing.”

State law also requires that “more than 50 percent of total dwelling units shall be for very low, low, low-moderate and moderate-income households,” and that 201H projects be “primarily” for lower income households; and require 201H projects be “more than 50 percent of total dwellings” for affordable housing.

“I believe the 50 percent requirement is not enough, Molina said in a press release.

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“Developers that take advantage of expedited 201H permit process should provide more affordable housing to the community.”

Typically, developers that submit 201H projects will provide the minimum required affordable dwellings at 50 percent +1, with the balance of the units being sold at significant market rate prices.

“I see the 201H program as an opportunity to take advantage of a relax review process so the market rate units can circumvent the normal scrutiny they would typically experience”, Molina added.

“If developers want to take advantage of the accelerated permit process, the benefit to the community should result in a significantly greater number of affordable housing units”, said Molina.

The 201H process allows projects that comply with Section 201H-41 (a) and (b), HRS to “be exempt from statutes, ordinance, charter provisions and rules of any government agency relating to zoning and construction standards for subdivisions, development, and improvement of land and the construction, improvement, and sale of dwelling units thereon.”

The proposed bill will be considered for referral to a Council Committee at the County Council meeting on April 17.

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