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Bold plan: Build 15,000 affordable homes

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Bold plan: Build 15,000 affordable homes

Source: Honolulu Advertiser

An ambitious plan calls for spending $78 million this year and $286 million more over the next five years to provide affordable homes for Hawai'i residents and services for homeless people.

The Joint Legislative Housing and Homeless Task Force yesterday issued its report, which has a goal of building 10,000 to 15,000 affordable units within five years. Its spending proposal includes $40 million to support homeless shelters and service providers.

The building plan would dwarf recent government-supported affordable housing construction, which has resulted in about 2,000 new units since 1992.

A lack of affordable housing has become one of the most pressing economic issues of the decade, with skyrocketing home prices, soaring rents and a growing homeless population. Funding for public housing dried up in the 1980s and more than 20,000 people are on waiting lists to get in.

"If the Legislature and the governor take the task force findings to heart and work to enact these recommendations, I believe we will make substantial progress in addressing the issues of affordable housing and homelessness," said task force co-chairman Sen. Ron Menor, D-17th (Mililani, Waipi'o).

The task force, formed last session to study Hawai'i's housing problem, proposes tapping the state's $574 million budget surplus to finance its recommendations.

Approximately 32 percent of the state's more than 400,000 households pay in excess of 30 percent of their income for shelter, according to the report. An estimated 44,190 new homes (32,580 on O'ahu) are projected to be needed by 2009 to satisfy pent-up demand. Of those, 21,890 units (15,590 on O'ahu) are needed for low-income households.

The recommendations include increasing the portion of the conveyance tax allocated to the state's Rental Housing Trust Fund

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